Obesity is a disease affecting over 40 percent of adults in the United States. It is easy to become discouraged before you even get started when the road to fitness seems long and difficult, and when moving a large body is painful. But significantly, overweight people can increase fitness with exercise. We’ve gathered some tips on how to start exercising when you are obese. Remember to consult your physician before beginning any exercise program; obesity is associated with other serious health issues, and you want to move safely and start slowly, with medical oversight if warranted.
Exercise Your Mind First
Getting started with exercise while carrying the burden of substantial extra weight is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. The first task is to banish negative thoughts and cheer yourself on for moving more than you did yesterday. Don’t think of exercise in terms of weight loss, although that may be a nice side benefit. Think of it simply as something good you do for yourself.
Seated Exercise Is a Good Start
For people who have led sedentary lives, seated exercise is an option to start exercising. You can build muscle strength with leg lifts, light dumbbell curls, and even a little “chair dancing.” Put on your favorite tunes and rock out. Don’t forget a little stretching to warm up and cool down after you’ve kicked up your heels in your chair.
Gentle, Low-Impact Exercise
After a few weeks of seated exercise, it’s time to stand up and keep moving. Walking is a great, low-impact, aerobic exercise. What’s more, as long as you observe appropriate social distancing, it is okay to take a walk even during prolonged periods of sheltering in place.
For overweight people, standing up can be an exercise in itself, and working up to rising from a chair or the couch more easily can be part of the routine. Specially designed canes provide assistance for getting to a standing position from a seated one. Once you’re up, set a realistic goal for walking. Make it to the end of the driveway and back, and congratulate yourself when you do. Then do it again, just a little further, the next day.
Move in Water or on a Bike
As you become accustomed to more movement each day, you can move on to water aerobics. The water can turn running or dancing into low-impact activities that are easy on the joints. Stationary bikes or beneath-the-desk peddlers keep you moving even when you’re staying home.
These are just some suggestions for how to start exercising if you’re obese. The key is to develop a new habit of simply moving more. You’ll feel better, and the positive effects can boost your mood and motivation. Again, be sure you have a doctor’s okay to take up an exercise regimen—for people who have been inactive for a long time, overdoing it can be dangerous, so start slowly and work your way up.