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Fitness & Exercise

Exercising When You’re Overweight

When you're overweight or obese, working out can be uncomfortable in more ways than one. Here's help.
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Dos and Don'ts

Ready to get started? Endress recommends doing the following:

  • Get fitted with good shoes. For instance, running store staff can analyze your gait and make recommendations. “The support makes all the difference,” Endress says.
  • Wear comfortable clothing. Chafing is common in the leg and groin area. Shorts and a T-shirt are fine in the pool if you’re self-conscious or can’t find a suit.
  • Include strength training eventually. But to lose weight, focus on aerobic training in the beginning.
  • Consider a monitoring system to track weight, what you eat, and exercise. Many smart phones have applications or you can use online systems. Pedometers are helpful to get you moving.

But:

  • Don’t do high-impact exercise in the beginning. It’s fine to build up to, but jumping in with both feet landing on a hard surface “is usually going to hurt something,” Endress says.
  • Don't compare yourself to others in your class or gym or let feelings of self-consciousness overwhelm you. When people used to say, "Hey, you’re doing great!” Stevens says she often had the nagging thought, “If I were a thin person, they wouldn’t notice me.”
  • Don’t be impatient. Don't look for radical change in a short time or get fixated on big weight loss results like on The Biggest Loser. Although such shows can be motivating, they don’t help set realistic expectations. “You see people who lose two pounds in one week and they’re crying,” Endress says.

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Reviewed on November 14, 2010

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