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Beginner Exercises for Obese People

author image Kim Nunley
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.
Beginner Exercises for Obese People
A woman performing strength training exercises with dumbbells. Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Obesity significantly increases your risk of serious health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. With regular exercise, you can increase the number of calories burned and contribute to your fat loss efforts. However, those who are carrying excess weight and are beginning to incorporate exercise into their regimens should take special precaution to ensure the safety of their workouts.

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Special Considerations

Because obese individuals are carrying more weight, activities they participate in have the potential to place a significant amount of stress on their ankles, knees, hips and lower back. Therefore, according to Stacie Schmidt of the American College of Sports Medicine, they should focus primarily on activities that are low impact. Jogging, for example, is extremely stressful on your joints if you carry excess weight and increase your risk of injury. In addition, it’s important to start out slow with your workouts and gradually increase intensity and duration as you build cardiovascular endurance.

Low-Impact Cardio

Cardio exercises are the most efficient for burning calories and contributing to fat loss. There are a number of non- or low-impact cardio exercises that you can do, including walking, cycling, swimming and water aerobics. Take five minutes at the beginning of your cardio workout to warm up and then another five minutes at the end of your session to gradually decrease intensity and allow your body to safely return to resting levels. Be consistent with your cardio training, incorporating four to five workouts that last 30 to 60 minutes per week into your schedule. The 30 to 60 minutes doesn’t need to be completed all in one session. You still receive the same benefits and burn the same number of calories with a single 30-minute workout as you do if splitting it into three separate 10-minute sessions.

Strength Training

Strength training builds lean muscle, which in turn supports the efforts toward reaching a healthy body composition and increases your metabolic rate so you burn more calories throughout the day. Start out on weight-training machines, which will allow you to exercise without much impact to your joints. A full-body routine includes seated chest press, lat pulldown, shoulder press, leg press, leg extensions and leg curls. Get in two strength training workouts per week, and begin with two sets of 12 repetitions of each exercise.

Daily Activity

You can make a significant contribution to the number of calories you burn every day by incorporating more physical activity into your typical daily routine. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends taking the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator any time you can, parking your car farther from the door and incorporating short walks into your lunch hour and throughout your work day.

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