If you are overweight or obese, a conventional exercise routine can prove to be challenging. Those who have weight issues have a difficult time participating in the same kinds of exercises as those who don’t have weight problems. People who are overweight have a harder time getting around than most and at times suffer from pain in their joints, especially in their legs and feet. They also tend to have shortness of breath and become tired very easily. There are several factors that can be discouraging when you feel the motivation of wanting to lose weight and are trying to implement an exercise routine. Two major issues are discrimination at the gym and being confused about what exercise routine to use.
Finding prejudice at the gym is probably the most common obstacle obese people face when it comes to exercise. Even if you are a skilled exerciser, walking into a gym can be intimidating. When you are overweight or obese, walking into a room full of people who are working out and look healthy can be very humiliating. Confusion about exercise routines can also be a hindrance for those with weight issues. It is hard to know what exercises are safe and which ones are going to be the most effective for you.
There are two types of exercises that you can utilize in your daily workout routine, these include aerobic and anaerobic. Both types of exercises are beneficial in many ways but you will find it easier to begin with aerobic exercises, as these are lower in intensity, and then move on to anaerobic exercises which are harder and more rigorous.
During aerobic exercise your larger muscle groups, the muscles in your arms and legs, are used constantly and at a steady pace in order to get your heart beating faster. As your heart rate goes up the more deeply you breathe. Deep breathing strengthens your heart, increases the amount of oxygen in your blood, and improves blood flow to your muscles. When the amount of oxygen is increased the amount of wastes, such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid, is decreased. The intensity of this type of exercise is lower than anaerobic exercise but its duration is longer with frequent and repeated movements. The energy used during this type of exercise comes from the carbohydrates and fatty acids that have been stored in your body. The objective of aerobic exercise is to achieve and maintain your Target Heart Rate.
Knowing the range of your Target Heart Rate is a vital factor if you’re trying to lose weight because it tells you if you are working out at the right intensity. A formula, known as the Karvonen Formula, helps you to calculate your Target Heart Rate by taking your maximum heart rate and subtracting your age from it. In general, the maximum heart rate for women is around 215 beats per minute and approximately 225 beats per minute for men. The number you come up with will be a percentage that generally ranges from 50% to 100% of your maximum heart rate. This range is called your Target Heart Rate Range. The goal of aerobic exercise is to maintain at least 70% – 80% of your maximum heart rate. Here are two examples, one for a 30-year old female and one for a 30-year old male:
A 30-year old woman would take the number 215 (the general maximum heart rate for women) and subtract her age from it, coming up with the number 185. She would then take 185 and multiply it by 70% and then again by 80%, coming up with the numbers 129.50 and 148. Her safest Target Heart Rate Range then, would be 129.50 to 148 beats per minute.
A 30-year old man would take the number 225 (approximate heart rate for men) and subtract his age from it, coming up with the number 195. He would then take 195 and multiply it by 70% and then again by 80%, coming up with the numbers 136.50 and 156. His safest Target Heart Rate Range then, would be 136.50 to 156 beats per minute.
Three examples of aerobic exercise include walking, swimming, and recumbent bicycling. These are excellent ways for someone who is overweight or obese to start an exercise routine.
This is the simplest exercise to start with. Because people who are overweight tend to have joint problems it is best to start your exercise routine with walking and not jogging or running. Jogging or running can stress your joints and cause you unnecessary pain. Walking has been shown to lead to abdominal weight loss and total body fat loss.
Swimming is one of the most beneficial exercises for those who are overweight or obese. Science has shown that swimming burns excess calories in the body. In one hour of swimming a person can lose approximately 800 calories if they are swimming actively. Lying in a pool and not actually swimming will not help one to lose weight. Actively swimming means that you are making strokes and moving across the pool. There are also aerobic type exercises that can be employed in the pool that are useful in shedding pounds and getting your heart rate up. Other benefits include increased muscular strength, relief from back pain, and stress relief. Swimming can give you a relaxed feeling and increase your energy levels while building muscle endurance and strengthening your heart at the same time.
Recumbent Bicycles, or bicycles that are immobile, are also an excellent choice for people with weight issues because they allow you to work your upper and lower body at the same time without putting pressure or stress on your joints. Being able to sit on a stationary bicycle also offers one support while they exercise. This is an easy work out to start with if you’re at a beginners level when it comes to exercise. But if you are in a job where you spend most of your day sitting then you want to avoid sitting when you’re utilizing your exercise routine. This is a great starting point but once you begin to see the benefits of it you should change to a routine where you are standing and walking.
Aside from its cardiovascular advantages, an aerobic workout has many other benefits as well. An exercise routine combined with a healthy diet can help to reduce fat. One of the more significant benefits of a regular aerobic workout is its capacity to release endorphins, a neurotransmitter, in the brain. Neurotransmitters are crucial to the functioning of our central nervous system. They are the “communication” chemicals that send information from our brain to our bodies. Endorphins help to control the craving for sugars and other foods that make us gain weight. They are best known for their ability to give one a general sense of well-being or a feeling of euphoria by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, and by increasing overall energy and resilience. Endorphins are also the body’s natural form of morphine and can be very effective as pain relievers. Other benefits of an aerobic exercise routine include a toning of the muscles, improved functioning of the lungs, and decreased fatigue.
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Malkin, Mort. Aerobic Walking the Weight-Loss Exercise: A Complete Program to Reduce Weight, Stress, and Hypertension. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley; 1 Edition, 1995.
Galen, Jan B. Fitness Through Aerobics. Boston, MA: Benjamin Cummings; 8th Edition, 2010.