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Can Obese People Do Yoga?

author image Dr. Julie Graves
Julie Graves, MD, PhD, a family doctor and public health expert with more than three decades of experience in medicine, has written for prestigious journals, medical students, and patients alike. An avid scuba diver, hiker and traveler, she helps readers lead healthy and happy lives with sound and sensible advice.
Can Obese People Do Yoga?
Yoga is for everyone, no matter the weight. Photo Credit: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

Those who are obese and who make the decision to start exercise may wonder if yoga is safe. Because 1 out of 3 Americans is obese, this question may potentially be on the minds of millions of people. With medical approval, yoga can be a safe and effective way to lose weight and improve health for people of all sizes.

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About Yoga

Yoga is an excellent exercise for obese people, because it is gentle, is low-impact and so avoids extra force on the joints, and improves strength and flexibility. Yoga also builds muscle, and having more muscle helps to burn calories at rest, because muscle is more metabolically active than fat. If you're obese, talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program. Your doctor can determine whether you have other health problems that could place you at risk for illness or injury when exercising.

Getting Started

If you're new to yoga, and your doctor has approved exercise, starting with a normal temperature yoga class is a smart idea. A restorative yoga class can be a good introduction and a way to get used to the studio and the basic movements and experience of yoga. Arriving at the first class well hydrated and wearing loose, comfortable clothing will make the experience more pleasant. Later, if you enjoy yoga and your doctor approves it, you can try a more vigorous hot yoga class, such as Bikram yoga.

Don't Be Worried

Yoga classes may be intimidating or embarrassing to those who are obese. But, yoga is often a welcoming environment, accepting of all sizes and shapes of students.

Yoga Benefits

The strength, flexibility and muscle mass gained from yoga can improve overall health and help with weight loss. The stress reduction and the better sleep that comes with regular exercise are both important in improving quality of life, and in shedding excess pounds.

Obese people can do yoga, and often find it is an effective exercise they can pursue for a lifetime.

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