Many overweight adults are apprehensive about starting an exercise program for a number of reasons. Some adults who are overweight often experience a higher level of discomfort or pain than people of a healthy weight when they increase their activity level. Overweight or obese people are more likely to sustain an injury. It might be advantageous for these people to participate in activities that are non-weight bearing such as bike riding or swimming. Adults who are overweight may also be worried that they do not have the athletic ability to participate in exercise programs. It may be important for these people trying to loose weight to remember that walking, which requires little athletic ability, counts as exercise too. Overweight adults may also be hesitant about exercising for fear that they will be teased because of their weight or lack of athletic ability. Exercising with friends or family may provide the support some overweight people need in order to keep up an exercise plan.
It is usually better for a person beginning to exercise to start slowing after getting clearance from their physician or health care provider. While the recommendation for exercise is for 30 minutes of moderate intensity a few days per week, this may not be practical for beginners especially if they are overweight. Overweight individuals should remember that it is perfectly acceptable to start at a lower level. Overweight individuals should focus on beginning with whatever they can comfortably achieve and may want to begin at a lower intensity.
The important thing to remember with exercise programs is to be consistent. Overweight or not, if the exercise program is continued daily, a person should be able to increase the duration and intensity of the exercise as their fitness level begins to rise. When a person is trying to increase their level of exercise, they may want to increase the duration before the intensity; an increase in the duration can have many health benefits if the exercise is aerobic such as walking or bike riding.
There is no set level a person should begin at. The beginning level is completely up to what feels comfortable to the individual and is approved by their health care professional. There is also no set exercise a beginner might want to start with. Many beginners choose walking as their form of exercise as it requires no equipment and can be done almost anywhere. Also, walking is very low impact and the intensity and duration can easily be varied for individual fitness levels. A general guideline for beginning walkers may be to start at a low intensity and walk for 20 minutes. The 20 minutes may be broken up into smaller intervals if needed. Once the person can comfortably walk for 20 minutes at a time, they may want to increase the duration to 40 minutes and begin gradually increasing the intensity. When the person becomes comfortable with 40 minutes of exercise at a moderate pace, they may want to increase the duration to 60 minutes and start walking at a brisk pace.
It may be important to keep in mind that it may take a person several months to increase the exercise duration to 60 minutes. The body will not improve its performance immediately and the increase in duration and intensity should be gradual. A person should never do more than feels comfortable. Doing too much too soon can result in fatigue and injury and may discourage the person from continuing the exercise plan.