Exercise for Obese People

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed.
Losing weight
Exercise can help you meet your fitness goals.

If you're currently obese and considering an exercise program, you may need to be careful about the program you choose. The added weight you're carrying around can put extra stress on your bones, joints and ligaments, so you'll need to be careful about form and function. That said, starting an exercise program could position you to take charge of your health, and you may be surprised by the types of improvements you see in short order.

Sample Exercise for Obese People

There is no one-size-fits-all workout routine that guarantees safety, regardless of your age or size, but there are a few basic styles of exercise you can feel fairly comfortable performing. Make sure you talk to your doctor and an exercise specialist before starting a routine to make sure there are no limiting health issues that could interfere with your exercise program.

Walking and Light Jogging

One of the best (and easiest!) ways to start a workout routine is to simply walk around your neighborhood or on the trails at a local park. Not only is this form of exercise easily accessible, it will also work your entire body as you increase your heart rate and use your legs, core and arms to stride along. In addition to the cardiovascular and muscular endurance benefits, you may also enhance your bone density by performing this weight-bearing form of exercise. If you're not seriously obese and have no known medical conditions, you may want to phase into light jogging after several months to continue challenging your body and improving your overall fitness. While total calorie burn will vary based on your weight and fitness level, you can expect to burn a minimum of 100 calories per mile when walking or jogging.

Circuit Training

Hitting the gym for a traditional strength training routine may feel overwhelming at first, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't find a way to incorporate strength training into your exercise routine. Instead, try setting up a home-based circuit training routine or check with your local fitness center to see if they have an easy circuit routine set up that you can follow. Circuit training essentially combines a cardiovascular workout with strength training. By performing strength training exercises back-to-back with little to no rest in between, you'll increase your heart rate and work your lungs while also increasing muscle mass. You can set up a circuit at home using dumbbells, exercise bands and stability balls. You can also follow a fitness center routine that usually consists of a series of machine weights set up in an easy-to-follow design. If you're not sure which exercises to perform, consider trying circuit training example workouts on a group exercise DVD or ask a certified personal trainer for assistance. According to Discovery Health's Activity Burn Rate Calculator, a 300 lb. person can expect to burn more than 500 calories from circuit training over the course of 30 minutes.

Cycling

If you're looking for a way to get a good cardiovascular workout while avoiding placing added stress on your ankles, knees and hips, you may want to take up cycling. You can try this exercise on a stationary exercise bike or you can take your routine outside on a traditional bike. Either way, you'll strengthen your legs and improve your cardiovascular health without having to place too much weight on your lower body. You may want to consider trying a recumbent bicycle at first - a type of bike that has a "bucket seat" and allows you to extend your legs in front of your body - because the recumbent seat is larger and nicely padded, making the ride more comfortable. Calorie burn will vary based on how fast you're cycling, how much resistance you're using and your personal weight, but you can expect to burn roughly 300-500 during a 30 minute routine.

Swimming

It's a classic cliché that swimming is the best form of exercise, but there's something to it, especially if you carry a lot of extra weight and already put extra strain on your joints and ligaments. In water, your bodyweight ceases to be much of a factor, enabling you to get a good workout without suffering knee and lower back pain. You can choose to swim laps, join a group exercise program or simply walk in the water. Every option is a good one - just make sure you continue to push yourself for maximum results.

Health Precautions

As a rule, it is always a good idea to consult with a doctor before engaging in a new exercise program. If you've been inactive, you may find that your cardiovascular conditioning has been compromised, making your heart and lungs less effective. This means you may have a hard time adjusting to the increased energy demands of exercise, and you need to be conscious of how that could affect your body. In most cases, doctors will clear you for exercise but suggest starting slowly and working your way up to higher intensity programs. If you receive this advice, heed it! The idea is for you to get healthy and live longer.

Getting Started

Once you're cleared for exercise, make sure you take steps to actually get started. Voice your goals to trusted family members and friends. Schedule your workouts and treat them like any other appointment. You may even want to consider signing up for several personal training sessions. Knowing someone's waiting for you at the gym can really help motivate you to stick to your goals.

Exercise for Obese People