Physical activity following bariatric surgery is a key lifestyle behavior that may enhance long-term weight loss success. Identifying behavioral constructs associated with post-surgical physical activity may influence the success of interventions to enhance engagement in physical activity. Purpose: This study examined the association between behavioral constructs and physical activity in patients who have undergone bariatric surgery.


Participants included adult patients who had bariatric surgery (gastric bypass, N=31; sleeve gastrectomy, N=28) within the prior 24 months (time since surgery = 0.7±0.6 years). Demographic characteristics, height, weight, surgical procedure, physical activity, and selected behavioral constructs of physical activity (perceived benefits, barriers, and autonomous motivation) were assessed.


Results did not differ when analyzed by surgical procedure (gastric bypass vs. gastric sleeve gastrectomy). Weight changed from pre-surgery (124.8±20.1 kg) to post-surgery follow-up (97.1±17.0 kg)(p<0.001), with a similar pattern observed for change in BMI (45.8±6.1 to 35.7±5.8 kg/m2; p<0.001). Post-surgical physical activity was 171.8±182.6 min/wk accumulated across 2.6±2.1 days/wk. Weight loss was correlated with physical activity min/wk (r=0.29, p=0.027) and days/wk (r=0.341, p=0.008). Post-surgical physical activity was significantly correlated with effort barriers (-0.33, p=0.011) and the following subscales of autonomous motivation [identified regulation (importance ascribed to the outcome) (r=0.38, p=0.003); intrinsic motivation (individual’s interest in the activity) (r=0.32, p=0.014)].


Autonomous motivation and perceived effort appear to be important behavioral constructs that are associated with physical activity following bariatric surgery. Targeting these aspects within interventions may influence physical activity engagement, which may enhance weight loss maintenance and related health outcomes.