Obese people often find it difficult to find physical activities in which to engage. Their heaviness makes movement difficult, and they are more likely to suffer from injury due to their weight than their thinner counterparts. One arena which does provide obese persons a place to work out successfully is water. Swimming exercises are often ideal for heavy individuals seeking to lose weight and become healthier.
Swimming exercises are not limited to freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. In fact, the classic strokes may be too strenuous for overweight persons to accomplish when they first begin to work out. Obese individuals are more likely to benefit from low-impact aerobic exercises in the pool. The Women Fitness website recommends shallow-water activities including simple walking or slow jogging in the pool, jumping jacks, side shuffling across the pool and jumps. The Love to Know website suggests overweight individuals work out in the deep water to shield their joints. Obese persons can dog paddle, practice dolphin or frog kicks while holding a kick-board in front of them and tread water.
The benefits of water exercises for overweight persons are extensive. Perhaps most importantly, these exercises are safer for heavy persons to do than typical land exercises. The water cushions the joints and is good for the participants' blood circulation. The swimming exercises can provide a whole-body workout while burning fat and calories. Obese persons also benefit from staying cooled off in the pool so they are able to work out longer than they could in other environments.
Obese persons need to be aware that swimming does increase the functioning of the heart and lungs, but they should not exercise to the point of strain of these organs. Beginners need to take it very slowly. Fifteen minutes is plenty for those overweight individuals just starting to exercise. Also, obese individuals will not experience the weight loss and health benefits they desire unless they couple their new water exercise program with healthy eating in appropriate portions.
The primary disadvantage to swimming exercises is that they cannot be performed at home -- unless you have a large pool in your backyard and it is the right season. They must, therefore, find a gym or Y with a pool, and membership can be expensive. Another drawback is that the workout must be performed in swimwear, and many overweight individuals are shy about wearing such apparel in public. Also, the Facts About Fitness website notes that working out in the cold water leads to increased appetite which can sabotage weight-loss efforts.
Anyone beginning an exercise program should consult with a physician first. This is especially true for obese individuals as they typically have more health concerns than people who are not overweight. Once in the water, an obese person should be conscious of not overdoing his workout. It is particularly easy to overextend yourself as the water gives you the illusion of being lighter and, therefore, not working out as hard as if you were on land. Monitor your heart rate so that it does not exceed your maximum beats per minute which can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220. Do not work out in the pool when you are running a fever or feel ill.