Fitness Articles

Think You're Too Heavy to Exercise? - Part 1

Getting Off To a Good Start

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  • You can take a water aerobics classes and/or do your walking in a swimming pool (with plenty of other people who aren’t exactly fond of wearing swimsuits), or you can use a walker.
  • The main idea is to start where you are right now, and adapt exercises to your needs and capacities, instead of trying (and often failing) to use exercises that aren’t right for you at this stage. With a little research and by asking questions, you’ll find that plenty of very effective alternatives to traditional exercises are already available. That’s why we have a Fitness Resource Center, Resident Experts, and the Community Message Boards, where you can get support and tips from lots of people struggling with the same problems you're facing.

    Above all, don’t make it easy to talk yourself out of starting an exercise program by getting confused about the difference between a challenge and an insurmountable obstacle. Those undefeatable obstacles are really pretty few and far between and not so hard to work around—if you want it to be that way.
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    About The Author

    Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
    Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

    Member Comments

    • Today is #1 for me. (seems like I have said that a lot) but it is. I mean it this time. I need people to hold me accountable. I need a kick in the ass to get going, because quite honestly I am just lazy, and it hurts when I walk, having surgerys and many accidents make it very painful for me to move. but I do believe getting some weight off will make a world of difference for me. I am excited. and Spark people so far seems like an amazing place to start!!! - 12/14/2014 2:48:24 PM
    • I am considered obese, and that just pisses me off. I ride almost daily and have been pretty active for the past few years. That being said, I love to ride in cute clothes, dresses and boots, or heels. It makes me feel better, it makes me feel cute and that is a huge confidence boost. Most clothing for exercise does not make most of us feel cute!

      Every so often I see a large person on a bike and it makes me smile inside! You go girl, be proud and ride on! I would rather see larger people out on bikes than not! I think body shaming is a crime to humanity. We all come in different sizes, we all belong, we just need to find a way to be comfortable while we work at creating a better you. So put on those cute clothes and go have fun. One day all that worry will seem like a distant memory.

      I am still obese, but I am healthy according to my doctor and that means I am happy with myself. Sure I want to lose more weight, but I am not going to put my life on hold until I reach a goal. - 12/3/2014 10:13:18 PM
    • Although this is posted long after the article was written, I would like to add that some of us in the disabled employees group at work decided to take on the annual President's fitness challenge. Our conditions ranged from not visible (many disabilities are not visible but are there all the same) to obvious (our wheelchair marathoner having one of them). Over time that program began to add in credits for activities such as his, but we didn't wait.

      One of our members, a user of a wheelchair, carried firewood to his house as one of his activities.

      One of our members who has MS and a visual impairment that limits his ability to drive pumps iron and rides a bicycle (or walks!) 2 miles to work.

      One of our members who uses a back brace rides horseback.

      One of our members who has seizures used yoga and running in place as "safe" exercises.

      One of our members used the book "Move without Pain" (Alexander technique and based on Feldenkrais movement therapies, which was designed to assist people with post polio syndrome) to deal with flexibility.

      We adapted activities as needed, put in the hours, and since our employer couldn't, I personally bought the medals (hey, not all that expensive, maybe $80 all told) for the group members.

      With advice and counsel and adaptive creativity - yes... anyone can get a little better and a little better - honest! I am now the queen of barn pen cleaning and can climb over a fence - things I couldn't do after being knocked around in the crosswalk by a car one night.

      Keep on choosin'! - 9/11/2014 1:38:13 PM
    • this comment is for ShineOnYou- do not be embarrassed about your size while exercising. Most people are proud of you for trying and doing something. The others don't count. Keep on d o i n g.
      - 9/11/2014 1:01:32 PM
    • This. I have severe nerve damage in my right foot, and I have a hard time walking more than a few steps. Because of this, I managed to gain back the 30 or so pounds I'd lost in college, and spent years making excuses for why I couldn't exercise. I feel lucky that I'm able to get down on the floor without worrying about not being able to get up. Mostly I do pushups/situps/ch
      air exercises, but I've found that swimming (which I don't get to do often because I don't have a pool or anywhere to go) and the exercise bike don't hurt my foot that badly, so I've been enjoying doing those. It's nice knowing there's things I can still do. - 7/14/2014 6:00:00 PM
    • When I can't get out, I try to do Nicole's Chair Exercises followed by Qi Gong. Looks easy but surprising how tired I am after doing them.
      Great article, Dean!!! - 6/24/2014 10:17:05 PM
    • SHINEONYOU
      I worried that I was too fat to exercise -- when I started spinning classes, I wanted to die. I could barely do the standing climbs/jogs. Some days I didn't even try. Other days, I tried ONCE for two seconds and gave up.

      I'm still not as strong as the other riders, but every time we 'climb', I join in -- even if it's only for a minute. I think sometimes we're too hard on ourselves! - 6/22/2014 1:17:36 PM
    • Well written, and I love, love, love the picture. I want to see more large people looking fantastic in SparkPeople's pictorial advertisements, especially the accompaniments to articles that we read on the start page. Go large people!! We need the message that large can be beautiful. - 5/1/2014 6:58:26 AM
    • This article gave me the encouragement I needed to get started with some kind of exercise. It listed all the excuses I have been using and the hope that I. too, can do some kind of exercise. My silver sneakers program pays for water exercises but I use the excuse that I don't feel comfortable being seen in my bathing suit. This is my first day with Spark People and hope this site will give me the support I need. - 3/18/2014 4:47:43 AM
    • This article is just what I needed to read. I'm 65, and due to ankle problems (that will require surgery later this year) I can't walk very much. But I'm convinced that I can find other ways to exercise. - 2/1/2014 8:45:26 AM
    • Love this article! I exercised regularly when I was almost double my present size. - 1/30/2014 6:20:51 AM
    • MLEHTO
      Thanks for posting this article. I have found that working with a knowledgeable personal trainer is helpful if only for a few sessions. Particularly if you get one that really listens to what you want to accomplish. Whenever I start with a new trainer, if he or she doesn't ask about any injuries or what I've been doing as far as fitness, that is the last session I have with that trainer. It's not worth my health! - 11/18/2013 3:17:53 PM
    • NADMAL1
      Good article! Esp. about these are the same challenges that stand between you and the life that you want for yourself."
      To the person with COPD.... you want to work on walking the treadmill/or outside and cycling on an exercise bike to build up the strength so that your lungs are functioning efficiently! See if you have a COPD out patient program in your neighborhood. Good job on walking! - 10/11/2013 11:42:59 PM
    • Very good article! As you all said, can't wait for part 2 & 3. The article was full of common sense, things you didn't know you knew. Common sense and balance are what is called for. - 10/4/2013 10:08:23 AM
    • good article. - 9/18/2013 8:03:38 AM
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