Starting a workout routine from scratch can be quite tricky for everyone, but it’s especially challenging for those with too many pounds to lose.
If your current weight places you in the morbidly obese category, exercising can come with some extra, unwanted, challenges, and hurdles.
Almost every movement you make puts excessive pressure on your joints.
Being morbidly obese may also mean that you’re dealing with metabolic issues. This might be putting you at great risk for certain health conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type II diabetes, cancer, etc.
By starting the right way—choosing a workout you enjoy, cultivating a positive mindset, and taking your time—getting on the workout path as an overweight fellow can be easier than you think.
Before you hit the gym or pound the pavement, it’s vital to bring more movement into your life. That’s why, as far as I can tell, the best stepping stone to the world of exercise is walking.
Walking can be done almost anywhere by everyone with little gear required, and it can vary in both intensity and duration.
Start by walking just 20 to 30 minutes a day, three times per week. As you get fitter, increase it to 45 to 60 minutes. Keep extending your walks over time.
For more challenge, opt for routes with more hills or go for long hikes on trails: the more intensity, the better off.
2. Try Aqua jogging
Try aqua jogging—especially if lap swimming is too challenging or couldn’t find any aerobic water classes nearby.
This exercise involves wearing a flotation device around your midsection and then mimicking the running motion by moving your arms and legs back and forth in the deep end of the pool. As a rule, you should make forward progress, but without touching the pool floor.
It’s thanks to the minimal impact on the body that aqua jogging is basically a rehabilitation technique for pre- and post-surgery patients. This is also what makes it ideal for overweight beginners.
Aqua jogging may seem easy, but don’t let that fool you. It takes more practice and effort than you might imagine. Make sure to start slow and increase both length and intensity as you begin to feel (and get) fitter.
You can find buoyancy belts at your local swimming pool or buy one online (check this one out). Next, head to the deep end of the pool and start jogging.
3. Begin Strength Training
Hit up the weight room once you’ve built enough endurance with walking and/or aqua jogging. This will help you build muscle strength, shift body composition, and get you toned.
But there’s more to it than that.
For obese individuals, lifting weights can help fix many of the postural issues that may arise as a result of carrying all of that extra weight. It also helps improve joints’ range of motion.
Building strength in your body muscles can make it easier to perform daily tasks, like carrying groceries, climbing stairs, or playing with your kids.
Strength training boosts your metabolic rate—that means you burn more calories, even when at rest. The more muscles you build, the merrier.
Begin with two to three full-body strength training workouts per week, leaving at least one full recovery day in between.
Proper form is king, so if you can afford it, invest in a few sessions with a trainer to work on the right technique.
Does the gym scare you? Start at home with body exercises, like squats, push-ups, and lunges. All of these are great exercises that you can do anywhere, and you can scale to your current ability.
4. Join Group Exercises Classes
If you’re serious about keeping the momentum going, you’ll need a strong social support system. Luckily, group workout classes are a great venue for meeting like-minded people.
There are many types of group workout classes to joint. These include more strength-oriented classes (often called “core” or “sculpt”), classic cardio classes (such as spinning, step aerobics, and Zumba), etc.
Before you book any class, make sure to get a sense of the class by watching it first.
Just whatever you do, make sure the class is beginner-friendly. Talk to the instructor ahead of time and explain your specific needs.
By connecting with them, you’ll be sending a strong message that you’ reopen to feedback and encouragement. They can suggest a modification and extra guidance to make sure you’re comfortable during class.
Not yet ready for a group class? Then consider investing in online streaming services (like XXX) or a DVD so that you can work out at home.
Here’s a list of my favorite YouTubers who make excellent workout routines:
5. Listen to your Body
This is the most critical piece for advice for starting a workout plan—no matter who you are and your fitness background.
Anytime you go for a walk, hit the pool, lift weights, jog or whatever; you must take care not to overdo it. You need to learn how to recognize signs of overexertion before it’s too late.
Of course, you should expect a bit of discomfort. If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.
You should be sweating, your heart rate should rise, but vomiting or chest pain could indicate danger.
Stop exercising if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Severe muscle or joint pain
- Heart palpitations
- Intense chest pain
There you have it. The above guidelines are all you need to get you started with working out while being obese. Keep in mind that the type of workout and exercises you choose is less important than the fact you’re doing it.
Don’t hesitate about trying everything on this list to find an exercise program that you enjoy and can stick to.
Give yourself credit for sticking to your plan.