Effectiveness of Exercise Interventions After Bariatric SurgeryTuesday, September 6, 2016
There is no doubt that exercise is good for you and that individuals with obesity, both before and after bariatric surgery (like everyone else), would stand to benefit from increasing their levels of physical activity.
Following bariatric surgery, exercise may be particularly important not just to increase physical fitness, but also to limit the obligatory loss in muscle mass that generally accompanies weight loss.
Now, a study by David Creel and colleagues, published in OBESITY, compares three levels of exercise intervention in patients following bariatric surgery in terms of effectiveness and adherence.
A total of 150 patients undergoing bariatric surgery were randomised to either standard care (SC), pedometer use (P), or exercise counseling group (C).
The standard care group (SC) received no exercise support by the bariatric center beyond a simple educational pamphlet.
Participants in the pedometer group (P) were given a pedometer and a one-page information sheet on using the device to increase physical activity. This handout promoted the progressive attainment of 10,000 steps/day. Individuals were asked to wear their device daily and record date, steps achieved, and whether they wore the device the entire day, part of the day, or not at all. Journals were collected, but no feedback was provided.
Participants in the exercise counselling group (C) were regularly seen at the bariatric centre and counselled by a certified exercise professional using motivational intervention techniques with individual goal setting.
Based on physical activity measurements using an accelerometer over two weeks before and 2, 4, and 6 months postoperatively, there was no difference between the SC and P groups, with a statistically significant but modest increase in daily steps in the C group that emerged at 4 months and was maintained at 6 months (about 1,000 extra steps per day compared to SC).
There was no notable difference in exercise tolerance, which increased in all three groups post surgery.
No group reached the 10,000 steps/day or 150 bout-minutes/week recommended for general health
As may be expected from these rather modest results, no significant differences in weight or weight change were found between groups at any time point.
Thus, these findings suggest that handing out a pedometer and asking patients to journal their activity is no more effective in promoting physical activity, than simply handing out a pamphlet; moreover, even adding in counselling by an exercise professional adds little (if anything) to the outcome.
Although the researchers discuss the possibility that an even more intense intervention may provide more benefit, the modest findings certainly question the effectiveness of activity interventions post surgery.
Certainly, simply handing out pedometers does nothing, and adding in expensive group meetings or meetings with exercise professionals adds little more.
These finding by no means speak against the value of exercise after bariatric surgery – they just speak against the indiscriminate use of expensive healthcare resources, when they achieve little more than can be achieved by handing out a pamphlet.