What Are the Benefits of Exercise If Obese?

It's no surprise that being obese leads to further health complications. Every part of your body from your brain to your knees can be affected by obesity. A regular exercise program can help combat some of these afflictions and make for a healthier and happier you.

Cardiovascular Disease

Obesity is a major risk for the development of cardiovascular disease 1. Obesity raises the likelihood of developing diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, which are all contributors to heart disease. A regular exercise program, whether you lose weight or not, can help combat some of these risks. Aerobic activity, if done habitually, can help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol and improve metabolism. Positive cardiac adaptations to exercise help reduce your risk of heart disease.

Joint Health

Obesity is also a major risk factor in the development of osteoarthritis. Excess body weight is stressful to the body and puts an added load on your bones and joints. For every pound you gain, three pounds of pressure is added to your knees, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Regular exercise can do two things to improve joint health. First, it can help you lose weight. Less weight means less pressure on the joints, which eases pain. Regular exercise also improves blood flow to the joint, increasing lubrication and reducing friction.

Mental Health

People that are obese are likely to become depressed. Obesity can negatively affect your personality and state of mental health, but exercise can help 2. Regular exercise offers a source of meditation that can help relieve anxious or depressing thoughts that race through your mind. During exercise, the brain releases endorphins that increase your mood. Even just one bout of exercise may make you feel happier.

Exercise Program for the Obese

First things first, before starting an exercise program, get medical clearance from your physician. When you are ready to exercise, consider getting between 45 to 60 minutes of regular aerobic exercise on five to seven days, suggests the American College of Sports Medicine. Work at a moderate intensity and try to obtain at least 150 minutes of exercise at this pace per week. When you are obese, there are special considerations when exercising. The obese are at an increased risk for orthopedic injury due to the effect of body weight on joints and bones. Choose a low impact exercise such as swimming or biking to ease the stress on your joints. There is also an increased risk of hyperthermia. Dress appropriately and always drink water while exercising. Getting into the habit of regular physical activity, even without weight loss, can improve your long-term health.