The Best Exercise for Someone Morbidly Obese

Although the term morbid obesity is a technical one, it also aptly describes the extent of discomfort and depression a person who is severely overweight often experiences. If you are morbidly obese, your body mass index is greater than 40 or greater than 35 if coupled with an existing comorbid condition such as diabetes or hypertension. More simply, you also are classified as morbidly obese if you weigh 100 pounds or more over your ideal body weight. If you are badly overweight, the best exercise or exercises are ones that are low impact and easy to perform. Several forms of exercise fit this criteria.

Women doing water aerobics. (Image: Sarto/Lund/The Image Bank/Getty Images)


All you need to begin a walking program is a good pair of walking or running shoes that will comfortably absorb your body weight. Start by walking just two to five minutes per day, then add an extra two minutes every third day. Your initial goal is to walk 30 minutes per day, but you can break up that amount into a number of five- or 10-minute walks. In 2005, researchers at the University of Colorado released findings that suggested obese people burn more calories per mile by walking slowly instead of briskly. A slower pace might lower the risk of arthritis and injuries to joints as well. So it's fine to make like a turtle -- slow and steady is a winning formula.

Water Exercises

The water can be a godsend for the morbidly obese. The water reduces the gravitational load on your body by as much as 90 percent, aiding your joints and bones. If you are self-conscious about your weight, the pool also shields you from a certain amount of embarrassment. You can use a pool in a variety of healthy ways, from walking to swimming to water aerobics classes.

Stationary Bikes

Riding a stationary bike is another proven form of low-impact exercise. A recumbent bike, as opposed to a upright stationary bike with the same small seat as a regular bicycle, is your best bet. You can sit comfortably on a chair-like seat, which eases pressure on your back and joints. Start with five minutes of peddling and gradually increase the time and intensity of your workouts. A stationary bike also allows you to watch TV or read, which might make the time pass more quickly and enjoyably.


It is essential to check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program if you are morbidly obese. Remember to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated during and after exercise -- you will sweat more that a person of normal weight. Although the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that people who are overweight or obese exercise for 150 minutes or more per week to stabilize or reduce weight and as much as 250 to 300 minutes per week to lose a significant amount of weight, those are long-term goals. Don't push yourself too hard at the beginning. It took a long time to gain the weight, and it will take time to lose it. But it you stick with it, you won't be morbid forever.

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