You’re obese, and you want to start exercising. Good for you!

Remember that when you have a lot of extra weight, exercising should be handled a bit differently. Exercise always creates stress for the body, however, if you’re obese your body is already continuously stressed, and it’s best to follow these tips:

Tip #1 – Start Slowly

True, this is a common tip for everyone. But overweight people need to pay extra attention to this and start slower than usual. Us obese people, our hearts already work hard by having to carry around our very heavy body, and our joints are also under daily significant stress. Adding more stress in the form of exercising should be done very gradually. When you start, ignore generic suggestions, and simply do what is manageable for you. Don’t aim for a 30-minute walk, but walk several times a day for 5 or 10 minutes. Do not work out for more than 20-30 minutes a day and do not do too many types of activities all at once.  Introducing one new activity per week is a better idea. Increase the duration/intensity of the workout as you feel more comfortable. If you can easily talk while exercising you are exercising at a comfortable rate. Exercising will become easier for you, both because you condition your body, and because as you lose weight your heart will not need to work as hard for just supporting your body. 

Don’t exercise every day. A good rule of thumb is to exercise 3-4 times a week on alternate days. Exercising will become easier for you, both because you condition your body, and because as you lose weight your heart will not need to work as hard for just supporting your body. Focus first on gradually increasing the duration of exercise. Only then, gradually increase the intensity and frequency of your workouts. 

Tip #2 – Choose the Right Exercise

Choosing a wrong exercise can cause injury, and there’s nothing like an injury to discourage you from continuing your weight-loss program. Many obese people, in addition to other issues that I already discussed above, also have balance issues. Ideal activities would be working out on cross trainers and recumbent bikes, and swimming, all excellent exercises which reduce the impact on joints and lower back. A treadmill is also a good choice, as it is predictable (straight surface with shock absorbers and steady speed), and you can hold on to the rails. The problem is that obese people have a hard time going to the pool, and the exercise machines are found in gyms, another place where most obese people feel very uncomfortable in. If your budget allows, and if you have enough space for it in your home, I would recommend buying a treadmill. It doesn’t have to be fancy with all the bells and whistles, just make sure that it can support your weight. That was the solution I went for, and it encourages me to exercise as much as I can. I put the treadmill in front of the TV, I make sure to record plenty of shows that I like, I turn on the AC, and voilà! I’m all set, and I actually have fun walking several times a day.

No worries if a treadmill, or other fitness equipment, is not an option for you. As mentioned before, you can simply find an activity you are able to do without it being too strenuous. It can be a 5-minute walk about 4 times a day, or moving your arms for a few minutes several times a day.

Tip #3 – Be Consistent

If you’re doing short low-intensity workouts, you might get the feeling that you are not doing much, and that all that effort doesn’t even make any difference. These thoughts can be very discouraging and you might want to quit altogether if you focus on such thoughts and on not seeing quick results. The reality is that moving a little is better than not moving at all. Another reality is that if you have regular workouts, you will improve gradually and be able to handle longer and higher intensity workouts.  

Tip #4 – Do Weight Training

The aerobic ability of obese people is usually not very good. Because an obese person will tire easily doing aerobic exercises, not a lot of energy will be used. Short weight training sessions will enable spending more calories than short aerobic exercises. In addition, weight training will increase the person’s basic metabolism rate, and will improve the looks of a person by increasing muscles’ tone (and possibly also increase muscle mass). Start with doing 8-15 repetitions for each exercise, with 30-60 seconds of rest periods.

Tip #5 – Hydrate and Avoid Heat Exhaustion

Obese people can not adapt to temperature changes as well as other people, and they are more susceptible to dehydration. Make sure to wear light clothing when exercising, and use a fan or A/C if you’re too hot. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercising.