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Positive & Negative Effects of Exercise for Obese People

By Stan Mack ; Updated July 18, 2017

Regular exercise improves health and well being, but it's not always easy, especially if you are clinically obese. Even though you might get frustrated, it's important to keep going. Focus on the benefits, and try to distract yourself from the negative effects of exercise. Join a weight loss support group or talk to a counselor if you reach an unsustainable level of frustration, but don't quit. Over time, your outlook and health will improve.

Positive Effects

In terms of health, regular exercise leads to weight loss, promotes a healthy body composition, and decreases the risk of developing certain chronic health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Psychologically, regular exercise improves your mood, gives you energy and promotes healthy sleep patterns. As the weight drops off, your improved appearance, enhanced fitness and increased mobility likely will boost your mood as well. Note that many of these effects require you to adhere to a healthy diet while you engage in a well designed physical program.

Negative Effects

Beginning a new exercise regimen is difficult, especially if you're not used to physical activity. Obese people might have difficulty finding suitable exercises for their weight. Also, visiting a gym when you dislike your appearance might be discouraging, and you might have difficulty finding exercise machines that are appropriate for your size. Fatigue is another common side effect of exercise, though this should diminish as your body grows used to regular physical activity.


Some obese people might have medical conditions that prevent them from participating in normal types of exercise. For example, if you have joint problems, a high-impact aerobics exercise class might not be a suitable choice. There are alternatives for many popular exercises, so with a little research you should be able to find an appropriate physical activity for you. For instance, water aerobics is a low impact but intense type of exercise, thus making it an effective choice for those who can't handle regular aerobics.

Expert Insight

If you are obese, it's important to discuss your plans to develop a program of physical activity with your doctor. You need expert guidance to choose appropriate exercises that won't tax your muscles, joints and cardiovascular system too much. Working with a personal trainer is also important because it allows you to learn which types of activities are appropriate for you and how to push yourself to exercise intensely without overdoing it. Also, having regular access to a supportive coach will help you stay motivated.

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