What is the best exercise to lose weight if you’ve had pelvic surgery?
Are you stuck in a rut of doing the same ineffective weight loss exercise day in day out?
Are you fearful of changing your exercise routine to protect your pelvic floor?
If you’re trying to lose weight or avoid weight gain this holiday season and take a load off your pelvic floor these weight loss exercises are for you!
Read on now to learn:
- The best exercise to lose weight
- 15 of the best low impact weight loss exercises
- How much exercise you need to lose 5-7.5 kg (11-16.5 lb)
- Why abdominal weight can be a problem for your pelvic floor
The Best Exercise to Lose Weight if You’ve Had Pelvic Surgery
The best exercise to lose weight after pelvic surgery (for hysterectomy or prolapse) is low impact aerobic fitness exercise.
1. What is Aerobic Fitness Exercise?
Aerobic fitness exercise is exercise that:
- Raises your heart rate noticeably
- Uses the large muscles of your body
- Rhythmical and continuous
Aerobic exercise has many benefits for women in addition to weight loss including reduced risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer.
2. What is Low Impact Exercise?
Low impact exercise is one form of aerobic exercise that lessens the impact of exercise on the pelvic floor.
Low impact aerobic exercise involves:
- the body weight being supported (e.g. cycling) or
- at least one foot in contact with the ground throughout (e.g. walking).
Walking after hysterectomy surgery is usually the exercise of choice during initial recovery.
In contrast, high impact exercise involves both feet are off the ground causing impact upon the pelvic floor with landing (e.g. jumping).
High impact exercises make prolapse symptoms worse and may contribute to recurrent prolapse after surgery.
15 of the Best Weight Loss Exercises
When it comes to weight loss some low impact exercises are more effective in burning energy than others.
The following exercise information is intended for women who have: completely recovered from hysterectomy or prolapse surgery, medical approval to return to general exercise and are at least 3 months post surgery.
This list is general information to help you make informed choices about the most effective low impact aerobic exercise to lose weight and protect your pelvic floor.
15 Low Impact Weight Loss Exercises
(in decreasing order of energy consumption)1
- Road cycling (fast) – uses loads of energy but not for everyone!
- Breaststroke swimming
- Stair machine
- Spin class*
- Stationary bike (moderate effort)
- Swimming freestyle (slow to moderate effort)
- Cross country skiing (flat surface, slow/light effort)
- Water aerobics
- Hiking cross country (no pack)
- Elliptical Machine
- Low impact aerobics (no jumping/running)
- Dancing (disco, folk, square)
- Walking (brisk)
- Stationary rowing* (light effort)
- Walking (moderate speed)
* These exercises may require pelvic floor friendly modifications for some women
Ideally incorporate a variety of exercises into your regular routine when you are exercising to lose weight. You can see from this list that fast cycling burns more energy than moderate walking. The more variety yhou choose the more effective your weight management exercise.
How Much Exercise you Need to Lose Weight
The more weight loss exercise you can perform the more weight you can expect to lose.
To lose 5-7.5 kg (11-16.5 lb) requires2:
- 45 minutes – 1.5 hours of exercise
- 5 days of the week
Beginners should commence with low intensity exercise where exercise and breathing feel easy.
Moderate intensity exercise is a desirable and manageable intensity for weight loss exercise in many women.
Always consult with your doctor before commencing any new exercise program.
The Problem with Abdominal Weight for Your Pelvic Floor
Abdominal weight contributes to the load on your pelvic floor.
Abdominal fat or visceral fat is body fat that wraps around your abdominal organs. The load of abdominal fat sits directly above your pelvic floor.
The more abdominal fat you carry, the greater the load pressing down upon your pelvic floor when you are upright and moving around. Too much weight will stretch and strain your pelvic floor (see right).
This really makes you think twice about some of the high impact exercises such as skipping and running that are given to overweight Biggest Loser TV weight loss show contestants!
Key Points for Best Weight Loss Exercise
- Choose low impact exercises to minimize impact on your pelvic floor
- Choose a variety of low impact exercises that suit your body and interests
- Abdominal weight increases pelvic floor pressure when upright.
- Avoid high impact exercises if you are carrying excess abdominal body fat
- Do more moderate intensity exercise increases weight loss.
with Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist Michelle Kenway
Learn how to exercise safely, strengthen your prolapse and reduce your risk of repeat prolapse.
Prolapse Exercises is a complete exercise guide for women after prolapse surgery seeking to exercise safely and protect their pelvic floor.
1Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Herrmann SD, Meckes N, Bassett DR Jr, Tudor-Locke C, Greer JL, Vezina J, Whitt-Glover MC, Leon AS.(2011) Compendium of Physical Activities: a second update of codes and MET values. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Aug;43(8):1575-81
2American College of Sports Medicine (2009) Position stand. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Feb;41(2):459-471.