Best Exercise to Lose Weight After Hysterectomy or Prolapse Surgery

What is the best exercise to lose weight if you’ve had pelvic surgery? Best weight loss exercise

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? Walking for weight loss

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

  1. Road cycling (fast) – uses loads of energy but not for everyone!
  2. Breaststroke swimming
  3. Stair machine
  4. Spin class*
  5. Stationary bike (moderate effort)
  6. Swimming freestyle (slow to moderate effort)
  7. Cross country skiing (flat surface, slow/light effort)
  8. Water aerobics
  9. Hiking cross country (no pack)
  10. Elliptical Machine
  11. Low impact aerobics (no jumping/running)
  12. Dancing (disco, folk, square)
  13. Walking (brisk)
  14. Stationary rowing* (light effort)
  15. 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 floorPelvic floor stretching downwards

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.

PROLAPSE EXERCISES BOOK

prolapse exercises

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.

READ MORE NOW

 


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.

Comments

  1. Thank you Michelle for your article. I’ve just got my Ab Swing out of the garage but wonder if it is safe to use? You sit on an inclined chair and swing legs up and down as you lean slightly back and then forward slightly. I’m 3 year post radical hysterectomy and because I had recovery complications and ongoing endometriosis issues, I’ve never gained the confidence to get back to excercise properly; it’s as though I am frightened of my own body. I am so worried about getting a prolapse and panic at every niggle that I have. I’ve tried going to the gym, using the bike and the rowing machine but often have had stomach problems afterwards. However, now that I am 50 too, I am trying again and I take such comfort from your advice, that it is possible to exercise safely… so I just need to sort this out! Thank you for all that you do and offer, with your website and I hopeful that I will get there eventually!

  2. thank you so much for the wonderful information, i was never told you had to watch what you did after recovery . God bless, have a lovely christmas

  3. Thanks Michelle, I love your sensible advice! Keep it coming. Julie

  4. hi Michelle! I was just wondering if your new book also lists what exercises NOT to do that may potentially worsen a prolapse? Also, what is another name for a vaginal prolapse, as I can’t find it as a specific category on your website? And do you know if Barre exercises are suitable for a moderate vaginal prolapse? Thank you so much, Melanie.

  5. I had a hysterectomy for uterine prolapse and a bilateral salpingectomy. Would Zumba be safe? And what modified excercises would you recommend to replace jumping and squat moves with? I was thinking possibly marching in place and knee lifts.
    Also- Would it be safe to do the 8/12 second intervals on an elliptical?

  6. Hi Michelle thanks for your informative videos and articles. I see that you don’t recommend running/jumping after a hysterectomy. Does this mean forever? I had a laproscopic assisted hysterectomy and the surgeon said getting back to running in the future wouldn’t be an issue.
    Thanks Gill

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Gill
      I think it’s very individual and depends upon the surgery performed, pelvic floor function, age, body weight ….It’s important to recognise that both high impact exercise (eg running) and pelvic surgery both increase the risk of pelvic floor dysfunction. When combined together a woman’s pelvic floor will be at increased risk of injury. Sorry to sit on the fence, it’s one of those questions we don’t know the answer to.This article might give you a bit more information on reducing impact with running too.

  7. Hi Michelle
    What is your opinion of pilates reformer? I have a level 1 dvd that I could return to. My reformer also has a rebounder which before my hysterectomy was fantastic for firming up the abs whilst supporting my back – I’m thinking that the bouncing at the moment might not be recommended – although it is done “lying down”. Any thoughts? I am not thinking about doing this quite yet as I am only 3 weeks post op and finding things difficult – a little bit of walking about; some pelvic tilting and internal pelvic exercise but that is all at moment. Be pleased to hear what you think. I had total abdominal hysterectomy with removal of all reproductive system with bikini line incision which has healed really well – I feel that my ligaments are really tight where they have reattached if that makes sense (both sides!) and I still have a lot of internal soreness.
    regards
    Jackie

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Jackie

      It’s very early days for you – full healing is around 3 months post op and you’ve had a lot of work done. Definitely avoid intense abdominal core work until you are fully healed at and perhaps longer depending upon the strength & support of your pelvic floor which is unknown to me. Reformer involves intense abdominal exercise and pelvic surgery increases the risk of prolapse down the track. There has been some suggestion in some research that the risk of prolapse may increase after hysterectomy – individual risk depends on many factors such as pelvic floor, ligament laxity, surgical technique, body weight, strength etc so it’s impossible to give a definitive answer other than to say be very careful.

      All the best for your recovery
      Michelle

  8. Have just bought a wonder core smart machine to help with core exercises been 3 months after vaginal hysterectomy is it safe to use.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Marjory
      Can you send through a link or details for this machine?
      Many thanks

  9. Having had a prolapse operation nine day’s ago, I’m starting to feel much better but am very aware that it’s still too soon to get back to the old fitter me. My question is, how soon after the operation can I realistically start getting back on my bike? It’s a man’s frame – is this ok because I get on it by putting my leg up and over rather than just through. I went for a longish (albeit very slow) walk two day’s after the op and realised that perhaps I was being a tad too ambitious. So now I am worried that I might want to get on the bike before I should. The operation itself was what the consultant called “a text-book routine” so it wasn’t too bad. I am concentrating on the pelvic exercises, but with the weather getting better weekly, I am roaring to get started again.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Jacqui

      Exercise for the first six weeks after prolapse surgery is always directed at preventing physical deterioration. This means a graduated walking program is usually the best choice for most women. The first week starts at around 5 to 10 minutes per week increasing at a rate of about five minutes per week for the next six weeks. This is a very important time to be resting and healing rather than exercising. Exercises such as cycling usually don’t recommence until after the six week checkup with your surgeon when you need to ask for his/her approval to return to general exercise. So to get the most out of the repair you need to heal really well and to do this you need to rest, do a little walking on a daily basis, put your feet up and then check with your doctor at six weeks. This will pay dividends in the long run.

      All the best for your recovery Jacqui
      Michelle

  10. Harikleia says:

    Hi Michelle,
    It’s been a year after my hysterectomy and I put on a lot of weight around the hips and belly. What can I do to lose it? I have an elliptical machine and I go swimming. Will these help? Thanks for your advice.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Harikleia
      Both these exercises are low impact and should help you with weight management. It would be good to include some stationary cycling too if you look at the graph in this article – especially doing fast/slow interval exercise for abdominal weight loss. Interval exercise is a really great way of managing body weight and can be done with low impact exercises which will help to protect your pelvic floor from injury long-term.
      Michelle

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