If you’re overweight and you want to build strength and to exercise safely, the gym can be a scary place. Struggling on the running machine burns up a sweat, and you may feel the gym-bunnies are looking at you.
But there’s really no cause for fear. Most people are focusing on their workout routine, not on yours. And if you do get a couple of looks, ignore them – because exercising is worth it.
It doesn’t matter whether you are fat or thin. If you are metabolically healthy, you are at lower risk of early death, due to things like cardiovascular disease, than your metabolically unhealthy peers. And what is the key to good metabolic health? Exercise!
How To Exercise Safely As An Overweight Person
Some overweight people abandon exercise because they’re not seeing weight-loss, but that is absolutely what not to do. As you build muscle, even subtly, your body is becoming better at converting fats and sugars, making you a healthier person.
The goal is to be fit and healthy, and fat can be fit. If you’re straining on the machines more than your thinner counterparts, just remember: it’s because you’re carrying more weight, and so, converting more energy.
Here are top tips on how to get the most out of exercise if you are overweight:
1. Start In The Gym
It may not be your first choice, but overweight people are more susceptible to injuries from exercise, so the best place to start is in a controlled environment like the gym.
Gyms are good because they provide a diverse range of options for different types of exercise you can do, so you can move around and find what you favor.
Equipment such as treadmills provide greater support when doing cardiovascular exercise than when exercising on uneven tracks like pavements.
Even the most budget-friendly gyms have equipment which are specifically designed or can be adapted for overweight users. So you can exercise safely, in the most controlled environment.
2. Look After Your Joints
Exercising can put a strain on the body if you’re overweight. So it’s best to focus on exercises that look after your joints.
Sustaining an injury from overexertion can put you off exercise. So it’s better to stick to more gentle exercise, at least at the beginning.
There are a lot of options for forms of exercise that look after your joints. Running can be a strain on joints, so unless you’re assured your knees are strong enough, best to avoid that while you build up strength.
Both cross-trainers and aerobic bikes reduce the strain on joints, while allowing you to build up muscle strength.
If you want to get away from the machines and do something more immersive, swimming is a great option as it protects the lower back and joints.
Water aerobics is a fun way to get into swimming, while socializing with other people.
Yoga And Pilates
Stretching exercises like yoga and Pilates are kind on joints too, and build flexibility and strength. Consider starting with a beginner’s class so you don’t overexert yourself on your first try.
Starting with easier classes and building up resistance is the best way to responsibly get into yoga and Pilates.
3. Rest Days Are Important
You may feel like you want to go full steam ahead with your fitness kick, but it’s not advised. In one part, taking on too much too soon increases the risk of burnout, which can put you off exercise for good.
If you’re just getting into exercise, you need to allow time for your muscles to recover. Have days where you don’t do any exercise, or just practice light exercise like stretching and walking to give your strength time to increase gently.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep too. Sleep is the time when our body does the most of its recovery, which is necessary to building strength. Look at the home of the best mattresses for heavy people, to get the best night’s sleep possible.
4. Don’t Be Afraid To Weight-Train
Ignore the popular advice that you need to focus on cardio if you’re overweight. Too much cardio can make you lose fat, but not convert it into muscle.
If you want to improve your health, weight training helps convert your fat into muscle, improving your metabolic health.
We know by now that metabolic health is more important to living a long and happy life than mere appearance. So utilize the expertise of personal trainers at your gym, and start to exercise safely with some weights.
5. Remember: You’re In It For The Long Haul
It can be frustrating when you change your lifestyle but don’t see the results you want quickly. However, you have to remember this is about staying healthy, which is not an overnight process.
Building strength and increasing fitness is about regular maintenance of your health. If you clip your nails, you know they’ll grow back long and gnarly unless you keep on top of them. Same with cutting your hair; and exercise is like this.
Keep doing your exercise safely, and be prepared to see how your mood improves, and your life changes. You’ll become fitter and stronger – an effort which should secure a longer and healthier life.