With so much advice levied at those who want to lose weight, it can be hard to find good information on diet and exercise for underweight people. There are health problems associated with being underweight as well as overweight, and it is important to establish a good program to help you reach and maintain your ideal frame.
Starting an Exercise Routine
What workout program you begin depends on how underweight you are, the reasons for your low weight, and your overall fitness abilities. If you are severely underweight due to illness, you should consult with a doctor regarding the best exercises to help you regain strength. In this case, your doctor will take all factors into consideration and recommend types of exercise that are acceptable. Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist or a personal trainer depending on your condition.
Exercise for Every Body
While many people in the modern world exercise to lose weight, the benefits of working out extend far beyond weight loss. In order to have a healthy body and mind, exercise is a key component to daily and weekly life, regardless of what your weight is. Although exercise is important for everyone, it's important to understand your own exercise goals before beginning. For example, if you'd like to gain weight, you'll want to do moderate cardiovascular exercise instead of intense. In addition, bulking up on your muscles can help you gain weight that is healthy.
One of the most important exercises you can do to start gaining weight is lifting weight. You want the weight you gain to be muscle, rather than just fat. Increasing your caloric intake alone can help you increase body fat, but what you want is an even distribution of healthy fat and mostly muscle, and weightlifting and other strength training exercises can help you achieve this.
Lifting weights is one type of strength training that can help you build muscle mass. You can start a weightlifting program for beginners if you've never done it before. If you plan to use dumbbells at home, visit a personal trainer first to learn proper form.
At the gym, there is also strength training equipment, such as lat machines. Ask a trainer at the gym to work with you on learning proper form on these types of apparatus.
Another way to increase your muscle mass is to do exercises like Pilates and yoga. These exercises require very little equipment and can be done at home with workout DVDs. You can also join classes at a local gym or yoga studio for the added benefit of a knowledgeable instructor who can give personal feedback.
Whichever types of strength training exercises you do, pair them with some cardiovascular exercises if you have your physician's approval.
Most people do aerobic exercise in order to lose weight. However, for those not interested in losing weight, it is still important to exercise the cardiovascular system by doing aerobic types of exercise. For those trying to gain weight, or at least not lose additional weight, try some of the following, moderate, types of cardiovascular exercise:
- Walking or biking at a moderate to brisk pace
- Recreational swimming
- Playing golf
- Playing team sports that don't require a lot of running (such as volleyball or baseball on a large team)
While more demanding types of cardiovascular exercise may be more fun to you, remember that the more intense the workout, the more calories you burn and the more your metabolism rate increases, which is why intense cardiovascular exercise is so effective for weight loss.
If you want to gain weight, you'll need to eat a high-calorie diet without turning to unhealthy fats and sugars. Instead, aim for a variety of healthy foods, adding "good" fats into the mix more often than you may have previously done. Examples of good fats are avocados, nuts, and plant-based oils. Don't go overboard with the fats; a healthy diet includes everything in moderation.
Consult your doctor on an ideal caloric intake for your goals. In general, men should eat around 2500 calories a day, and women around 2000 calories a day in order to maintain their weight; however, your size and daily activity level have an influence on these estimates. If you need to gain weight, consult a nutritionist to help you work out an ideal daily caloric intake. Keep in mind that 3500 calories equals one pound; maintaining your weight means eating 3500 calories for every 3500 calories you burn, while gaining weight requires eating more than 3500 calories for every 3500 you burn.
Healthy Weight Gain
Many people are surprised to learn it is much harder to build up one's weight healthfully than to lose weight. The key is "healthfully." While it is relatively easy to put on fat quickly, this often involves eating high-fat foods or using protein powders, which can contribute to a number of health problems. As with losing weight, gaining weight or getting a more athletic silhouette for your slim frame is something you should do slowly.
Develop a reasonable exercise routine that includes both strength training and cardiovascular activities, and pair these workouts with a healthy, varied diet. Calculate your ideal weight and then use diet and exercise in order to reach that weight and develop a healthy physique. While it may be tempting, if you are underweight, to forego exercise altogether, your body needs the cardiovascular exercise for overall physical and mental health and the strength training to prevent injuries. All healthy lifestyles include exercise; if you need help getting started, consult your doctor, a personal trainer, and a nutritionist for expert advice.