How to Lose Weight With a Bad Back

Exercise in a swimming pool to help to relieve the stress from your back and joints.

If you experience back pain, you may find it difficult to get motivated to work out and lose weight. According to the website Spine-Health, your excess weight may actually be contributing to your back pain, so exercising and losing weight could improve your overall health while relieving your pain. Because weight loss requires that you take in fewer calories than you burn, changes to your diet can help you more quickly achieve your goals. Take small steps and do what you feel comfortable doing, always consulting with your doctor before starting an exercise plan, especially if you have ongoing, chronic back pain.


Step 1

Choose a form of low-impact exercise that you can participate in without adding stress to your back. Spine-Health suggests options such as walking, biking or water exercise.

Step 2

Participate in your preferred form of exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes a day most days of the week, as recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine, or ACSM. If long exercise sessions aggravate your back, break them up into smaller pieces: take a 10 minute walk following breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you've accumulated your required exercise. The ACSM does note that weight loss could require as much as 60 or 90 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day, so make adjustments to your routine in order to see results.

Step 3

Lift weights several times a week. You may think that lifting weights could place undo strain on your back, but weight lifting actually strengthens the muscles of your back and spine, and in time, could decrease your pain level. Also, as you build muscle, your metabolism will increase, assisting you with your weight-loss goals. Ask a personal trainer to show you proper form, and start with exercises that isolate specific muscle groups, like the leg extension, leg curl and back extension.


Step 1

Start a food diary and write down everything that you eat or drink. Look for unhealthy eating patterns. Many people find that they overeat when watching TV or when they're handling stressful situations.

Step 2

Make small dietary changes, adding one new change each week. For instance, if you eat out at restaurants five days a week, aim to only eat out three days a week, packing or cooking healthy meals on the other two days.

Step 3

Cut back on empty calories--those calories that you consume that don't deliver any necessary nutrients or that have a large number of calories from sugar or fat. Soft drinks, sugary coffee beverages, candy and doughnuts all fall into this category.

Step 4

Recruit a healthy-living buddy. Find someone you trust and respect, whose exercise and nutritional choices you admire. The person doesn't need to be a healthy-living saint, just on the right track. Ask him to send you encouraging emails and meet you at the gym a couple days a week to help to keep you focused.


Try tracking your calorie intake along with your food diary. This will help you keep honest about the amount of food you're taking in.