Background: Obesity is a major public health concern on a global scale. Bariatric surgery is among the treatment options, resulting in significant and sustainable weight loss as well as amelioration of comorbidities. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether a 12-week aerobic exercise program positively impacts heart rate variability (HRV) and functional capacity after gastric bypass surgery (GBS) in a female cohort.
Methods: Of the 52 patients initially recruited, 21 were randomized to a training group (TG) or control group and successfully completed the study. Patients were tested on two occasions: 1 week before GBS and 4 months after GBS. Anthropometric variables, body composition, record of heart rate and R-R intervals, and 6-min walk test (6MWT) were assessed at both time points. The TG underwent an aerobic exercise training program on a treadmill (1-h session, totaling 36 sessions over 12 weeks).
Results: The main findings from this study were: (1) only the TG demonstrated a significant increase (p < 0.05) in all indexes of heart rate variability (HRV) after 12 weeks of aerobic exercise training and (2) only the TG demonstrated a significant increase (p < 0.05) in 6MWT distance and decrease in diastolic blood pressure after aerobic exercise training.
Conclusions: We conclude that 12 weeks of aerobic exercise training improves cardiac autonomic modulation and functional capacity 4 months after GBS.