We hear a lot about obesity these days, and the usual solutions range from gastric bypass surgery to the inevitable plea for diet and exercise. But with all this attention, there’s one aspect of obesity no one’s really talking about. Besides the obvious challenges of being overweight or obese in our world, when it comes to exercise, plus-sized people have even more obstacles getting in their way. Gyms can be scary even for the most experienced exerciser. Walking into a room full of sweaty exercisers, all of whom seem to know what they’re doing, is hard for many of us.
Those of us who suffer from obesity usually have some other factor to deal with also. Factors such as knee or feet problems and the weight limits on most exercise machines prevent most obese people from doing the workout routines used by others. This means that obese people must find alternative forms of exercise in order to lose weight and try to become healthier.
Swimming is a recommended exercise for obese people, and while this is wonderful if you have a pool in your backyard, what if you don’t? Walking around in a bathing suit causes instant panic for plenty of people, but even more so if you’re overweight or obese. Recumbent bikes are another good option for obese people. The problem is, many aren’t built with big enough seats, and climbing onto them can be a real challenge. Walking is a simple exercise that can be done anywhere, right? For people with joint or knee problems, walking isn’t always comfortable, and some of my clients have even experienced name-calling and other rude behavior when they’ve gone out for a walk.
Being obese and being overweight are two different things. What doctors use to determine which one you are involves your Body Mass Index (BMI). To calculate your BMI you divide your body weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. If you’re mathematically limited, as I am, you can simply use this BMI calculator. BMI is used to track body fat according to your height and your weight, but it doesn’t distinguish between lean body tissue and fat. BMI can be misleading for very muscular people or for pregnant women. A BMI between 25 and 29 is considered overweight and a BMI greater than 30 is considered obese. If you’re BMI is 30 or greater, see your doctor and get a checkup before you start exercising or dieting.
Before you do anything, always see your doctor to make sure you can safely exercise without hurting yourself. If you’re taking medication, find out how to monitor yourself since some heart or blood pressure medications can affect your heart rate. Make sure you get details from the doc about exactly what you can and can’t do. If you’ve never exercised, the last thing you want to do is hurt yourself by doing too much too soon.