THURSDAY, Dec. 4, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Weight-loss surgery patients gain extra health benefits if they exercise regularly after the procedure, a new study found.
Researchers divided 119 people who had weight-loss surgery into two groups. One group did 120 minutes of moderate exercise a week and attended education sessions on topics such as nutrition, upper-body stretching and medication use. The others did the education program only.
After 24 weeks, patients who exercised showed greater improvements in insulin sensitivity and glucose (sugar) metabolism than those who did not exercise, according to the study published Dec. 1 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Low insulin sensitivity and poor glucose metabolism increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The exercise group also showed significant improvement in the ability of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen to muscles during physical activity, reducing the patients' risk of heart disease, diabetes, lung cancer and stroke, the researchers said.
There was no difference between the two groups in the total amount of weight lost, said the researchers at the Florida Hospital -- Sanford-Burnham Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes.
The findings show that an exercise program after weight-loss surgery can benefit patients, said Bret Goodpaster, director of the exercise core at the institute.
"Importantly, our study showed that aerobic exercise is feasible in this population -- a result that directly counters the perception that severely obese individuals cannot respond to lifestyle interventions," Goodpaster said in an institute news release.
"Moreover, we have identified specific, non-weight-related health benefits that exercise confers on these individuals," he said. "We look forward to additional studies to determine the optimal amount and type of exercise that produces the best physiological results."
Each year in the United States, more than 200,000 people have weight-loss surgery.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about weight-loss surgery.