What exercise should an overweight person start with?


It may help to know that the first few hundred extra calories you burn will give you the greatest health benefit. So take it day by day, focus on living a more active life overall, and the rest will fall into place.

Three Tips to Get Started:

  • Make it manageable. Set your goals as small and as specific as you need in order to get motivated. Instead of saying to yourself, "I'm going to get in shape," set a more realistic short-term goal with a very specific objective. For example, your first goal might be to walk for five minutes today and tomorrow. Or you might set a goal of walking up and down the stairs in your house two additional times every day this week. Do whatever you need to do to make the concept of being active seem manageable to you on a moment-by-moment basis.
  • Ease into it. Start with a scaled-down version of whatever plan you've created for becoming more active. If walking is your activity of choice, begin with five-minute walks and eventually build up to 10-, 20-, or 30-minute walks. Or start exercising just two days per week, then work your way up to five days per week over a period of months. Start small, and as soon as you feel you can do more, commit to the extra effort. But don't bother thinking about the next step until you feel great about what you are currently doing.
  • Work with what you've got. If you're very overweight or have aching joints, arthritis, or a physical limitation, you'll do best to focus on activities that make exercise easier in the beginning. Swimming or other water-based activities are good options. They provide an excellent resistance and cardiovascular workout, and the water will support most of your weight, so you may be able to do stretches and movements that might be too difficult on dry land. Enlist the help of your healthcare provider or physical therapist in designing a workout plan that's appropriate for you.

    First and foremost you should be cleared by a doctor before starting any fitness regimen. If you have any ailments you should govern yourself accordingly. With that being said, I would suggest that you start with a vigorous walk. Invest in a heart rate monitor to ensure that you are not trying to do more than your heart can take. As a beginner, you do not want to put more that 70% work on your heart. As a rule of thumb, if your heart is beating faster than you can breathe, you might want to slow down or even rest for a few minutes before continuing.

    To make it interesting you can walk with friends. This way you can talk and enjoy each other’s company to pass the time. You can walk thru parks and on nature trails. You do not have to confine yourself to the treadmill at the gym. That could get redundant and boring. However, if the weather does not permit outside activities then the gym is a good place to be. You can take a class or two. Be around people with the same goals as you so that you are not discouraged.

    As long as the individual has a doctor's clearance to exercise, there are lots of options.  Walking might be a better choice than running for someone just starting to exercise, but they can also go biking, skating, swiming, hiking, and/or take aerobic classes.  As long as there are no medical limitations, then there isn't any exercise off limits.  I'd recommend mixing up aerobic activity with resistance training rather than just focusing on one.

    Walking! Walking 10,000 steps a day or more is a really good way to get started and as the weeks go by you can start adding in wall pushups and you can practice sitting in a chair and pushing yourself out of the chair with your legs only. As you get stronger you can just act like you are going to sit in the chair and you changed your mind and you stand up again. These are called squats and they are a very good way to strengthen your legs and get you prepared for higher intensity exercises.

    You will be more successful and even reduce your risk of injury by making sure you have a habit of proper nutrition in place a good seven days before you begin any strenuous exercise routine. Walking can be done any time anywhere and you can slowly add in weight training which is very important for speeding up your metabolism and burning fat, even while you are sleeping. 2-3 days a week of weight lifting and 4-7 days of walking is a very good place to start as soon as you have prepared yourself with your seven days of proper nutrition and it is a good idea to also prepare yourself mentally. Journaling or sharing your adventure with friends or family is a good example of how to mentally prepare for your journey. Chances are there are other members of your family or friends that also need to begin a regular routine and you can help each other remember that this is a lifestyle change that you will do on a regular basis for years to come. Please check with your M. D. before you begin. 

    Overweight people should engage in the same forms of exercise as any other segment of the population. If you’re an overweight person looking forward ways to get more fit you need to engage in cardiovascular exercise such as aerobics to improve the health of your heart and lungs, resistance training to improve the health of your muscles and bones, and flexibility training to improve range of motion and decrease the risk of injury due to faulty movement patterns. Like any person starting a workout program consult a physician to ensure you’re healthy enough to work out, and start with low intensity short duration workouts and gradually increase intensity or duration as your fitness levels improve. Start with stretching and self myofascial release to improve range of motion, followed by stabilization resistance training to help prepare the body for more intense modes of exercise as fitness improves. For beginners, start with exercising in the 15-20 repetition range.

    As long as your doctor has given you the "go ahead," I recommend beginning with moderate walks most days of the week as well as resistance training with bands and/or light weights 2 to 3 times per week.  However, many overweight people experience joint pain and may be significantly overweight to the point where going for daily walks is contraindicated.  In this case, my recommendation would be to swim if a pool is available or join an aqua class at a local gym or YMCA/Recreation Center.
    Breaststroke Swimmer

    After getting clearance from your physician to begin an exercise program, there is nothing off limits!  Go for a walk, join a group fitness class, dance in your livingroom, lift weights at the gym, dust off your bike and challenge yourself!  Maybe you’ll pick a route around the block and lengthen it each week… whatever you choose, be proud of your new commitment to health and wellness!

    Joanne Duncan-Carnesciali, CPT,NASM Elite Trainer
    Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
    It's import to distinguish the difference between what is classified as overweight and and obese.  It is also important to distinguish whether is person is classified overweight as a consequence of high percentage of lean muscle tissue as in the case of a body builder.  For the most part most Americans are overweight and we all walk and play from day to day.

    However, to answer your question, if a person is overweight and healthy and has no risk factors than the American College of Sports Medicine Recommends thirty minutes of moderate intensity activity on most days of the week.  Or 3 twenty minutes bouts of vigorous activity.  Vigorous activity is defined as a 7 or an 8 on a scale that measures rate of perceived exertion.  So the 7 or 8 is highly subjective.

    One can engage in cycling, or walking or swimming if they are overweight.  If a person is obese, it changes as obesity is a clinical condition and they individual might have other diseases like hypertension, diabetes and/or high cholesterol and there aer specific exercise guidlines for the obese population.
    A great place for overweight people to start exercising is to walk more. Whether you’re new to exercise or have been physically active for awhile, walking is the most basic functional movement that your body is designed to perform. From this point, try to incorporate other activities such as swimming, biking, resistant training and flexibility programs that will insure that your body is getting the activity that it needs.

    If you need more help on where to start and your doctor has cleared you for exercise, contact a fitness professional who can assess your needs and guide you to specific exercises that are both safe and effective.

    Continue Learning about Types Of Exercise

    Types Of Exercise

    Types Of Exercise

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    Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.