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How to Begin an Exercise Routine for Overweight People

By Linda Ray ; Updated April 18, 2017

While exercise is an important tool in achieving a better quality of life and prolonging life, it can be a difficult process for people who are overweight. Individuals who are obese, or who have physical ailments often associated with obesity, should get a medical checkup before beginning an exercise routine.

  1. Measure your fitness levels before you begin, so that you will have benchmarks to measure your progress. Write down your pulse rate before and after each exercise period for a few weeks to monitor your progress. Keep track of how long it takes to walk a mile, how many repetitions of each exercise you can do and how far you can reach to touch your toes. Weigh in, and take your body measurements with a measuring tape.

  2. Start slowly. Pushing yourself to reach unrealistic goals can set you up for failure. Your vital signs and resilience will increase, the more you exercise. Instead of being frustrated because you can't do 100 push-ups, you can rejoice in doing 10 more each week.

  3. Set goals. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that most adults get in at least 1500 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week and add weight training at least twice a week. Plan your week based on the amount of exercise you can realistically complete. Write your plan down to further your commitment.

  4. Find places to exercise where you won't see people you know, if you are embarrassed about your size. The Weight-control Information Network, a service of the National Institutes of Health, offers tips such as how to exercise at home or how to join a club of other large people in their publication called Active at Any Size. They encourage beginners to take pride in their efforts and to focus on the health benefits that will come from an active lifestyle.

  5. Tip

    Allow time for recovery between exercise routines. Many people who are overweight become zealous and start exercising with a passion, only to find they are worn out and sore, and stop before they see any real results.


    Stop any exercise if you are feeling pain, to avoid serious injury that will set you back in your new exercise regimen.

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