If you're a plus-size woman, chances are you aren't thrilled with the idea of putting on a belly-baring outfit and hopping around with women who look like they're still in fifth grade. Don't despair, as there are plenty of exercises you can do without feeling out of place or putting too much stress on your feet and joints.
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Walking is one of the least-intimidating exercises for plus-size individuals. You don't have to have any special clothes -- all you need is a pair of comfortable shoes. You can start a walking program at your own pace. If you are very overweight and out of condition, walk for five minutes at a time, slowly working your way up to more time as you gain conditioning and strength. Add speed as you become accustomed to the exercise. You might start out walking 2 miles per hour for five minutes and end up walking 4 miles per hour for an hour. Work up to this level, and you'll burn approximately 400 calories per hour. However, even if you walk for only 20 minutes, it is certain to have a positive effect on your health.
If you are plus-size, you may experience times when your feet and knees hurt from carrying the extra weight. Water aerobics and swimming are an ideal solution to this problem. You'll burn plenty of calories, too. A 200 lb. person will burn almost 400 calories an hour doing water aerobics and almost 600 calories an hour swimming, according to the Health Discovery website. In the water, you feel weightless, yet you can still get an effective workout. Water aerobics utilizes water resistance to build muscle and cardiac efficiency. If you choose to swim, you'll find that as with walking, you can easily increase your speed and time as you continue your exercise program.
Riding a bike is another way to feel light and reduce pressure on your joints while you exercise. Ride a stationary bicycle at home or at the gym, or purchase a road or mountain bike to ride in your community. Start out slowly -- you'll likely get sore if you decide to ride 10 miles the first time you get on the bike. Put the bike in a low gear for an easier ride, and put the bike in a higher gear after you have built up a bit of muscle in your legs. If you're a parent, encourage your kids to ride bikes with you. They'll enjoy it, and you'll find that they'll encourage you to get out there and ride even on days when you're not feeling particularly motivated. As you get conditioned, increase your speed, distance and time. Ride a bike for an hour at 12 miles per hour, and you'll likely burn over 350 calories.
Dancing is an easy exercise to do at any weight, because it is fun and doesn't take any particular skill. You can simply crank up the music and get your body moving at any time of the day. Do this for an hour, and you'll burn hundreds of calories. If you're interested in learning a specific style of dance, sign up to take classes or purchase a DVD to work out to at home. Belly-dancing is an excellent exercise for plus-size women, as its gentle movements isolate and build muscles while not putting too much pressure on feet and joints.