Exercise for Big Bodies

How you can begin living a healthy life with a few simple exercises.

Whether you inherited your weight problem, suffered a life-altering injury that caused you to be immobile for a long period or time, or have just made bad dietary choices, there is no time for self-pity if you’re going to overcome a weight issue. What can you do when your weight prevents you from fitting on an exercise machine; causes knee, joint or heart problems; or makes you feel too embarrassed to wear a bathing suit? Swallow your pride and get to work. And it is very hard work.

If you think you’ve got the resolve to do what it takes to shave some pounds off, read on to find out how you can get started.

The place to start is your doctor’s office. Have your physician check on any current health conditions that are affecting you. Also, going to the doctor will allow you to get a baseline on your heart rate and overall health, which will make it easier to work with your physician to monitor your progress along the way. The key to any weight-loss routine is to find an exercise you can enjoy doing and to start out slowly. Ask your physician for recommendations of good exercises, and give them a shot. If you find them too repetitive and boring or a little more difficult than you expected, try something different. Gradually, smartly increase the time you spend at it as well as the intensity of your exercise.

For those who may be severely obese, the exercises to get you on your way would be simple leg lifts, arm raises, or bending and leaning over, which can be done while sitting. These movements provide the muscle strength necessary for future exercises and will minimize your risk of injury. As you go through each day, look for ways to add more movement and exercise. Make it a part of your daily life.

A great form of exercise for anyone is walking. The more steps you take, the better you’ll feel. Even walking from one end of the house to the other is helpful. When walking, start off slow and only go short distances. Each day try to go a little farther but do not overdo it. If needed, take frequent breaks and don’t walk so far that it will be hard to make it back to your starting point. No matter where you’re walking, be sure to wear good walking shoes and drink enough water along the way. Doing these easy steps will keep your body ready for the next walk around the block.

For those who are able to wear a bathing suit and have access to a body of water, swimming is a wonderful form of exercise if you’re obese. As the water supports your body and therefore does not put the usual strain on your bones and joints, swimming makes it possible to move your body with greater ease, which increases your strength, stamina, flexibility, and range of motion. With these improvements in tact, performing other exercises on the ground will become easier as well.

No matter how much you weigh, what you may need most is accountability and encouragement along the way. If possible, a personal trainer is a great way to stay on track and stay safe along the way. A close friend can also help keep you accountable or tag along for your regular workouts. Joining a support group may be a good option for some. With any exercise program, remember that the gym isn’t the only step to losing weight. You should also eat a healthy diet. Not only will healthy, low fat foods help you lose weight, but they will also give you the energy you need to do the exercises that do the body good.

Understanding Obesity

As the weight of the average American has been increasing during the past decades, health professionals have claimed America to be suffering an “obesity epidemic.” How do you know if you’re overweight or obese? First, you have to calculate your body mass index (BMI).

To do this, multiply your weight in pounds times 703. Next, figure out how tall you are in inches, and square this number. Finally, divide the first number by the second. The answer is your BMI.

A BMI below 18.5 means you’re underweight, between 18.5 and 24.9 is a healthy weight, 25-29.9 is overweight, and 30 and above is obese.

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How Fit Are You?

BodyExactly how fit are you? It’s an intriguing question. Many people over and under estimate their own fitness. Often, the fitter people get, the more critical they are of their own fitness. The ways of measuring your fitness is almost as varied as the ways you can get fit. So how do we find out how fit we are?

Measuring your fitness is important for a few reasons. Knowing your current fitness level will enable you to make clear goals for your workout program. You’ll be able to measure your fitness after some time, and see how far you’ve progressed. This will help to maintain your motivation. Finally, it’s important to know your fitness level so that you can choose the most appropriate exercise and strength training for your body.

There are four primary components of fitness that you can measure. The first is aerobic fitness. This is your endurance level, and it is dependent upon your age, gender, and improves with proper training. Aerobic fitness is directly related to the proportion of your bodyweight that is free of fat. Your level of aerobic fitness implies a level of health, and thus is a very important measurement.

Aerobic movement requires the delivery of oxygen to the muscles. Oxygen is delivered to the muscles via your bloodstream. Therefore, each heartbeat you have is an indicator of the amount of blood traveling through your bloodstream. So one way to measure your aerobic fitness is to take your heart rate, or pulse. Record your resting pulse rate, and then go for a one-mile brisk walk. Take your pulse again once you’ve immediately finished the mile, and record how long it took you to walk. As you gain aerobic fitness, your heart rate should lower. So should the time it takes you to walk the mile! The average resting heart rate for an adult is 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm). Truly fit individuals can have a resting heart rate of 40bpm!

The second measurement is muscular fitness. This relates to your strength, and the endurance of that strength. Your muscular fitness can show how susceptible you are to injury. It also relates to your bone mass. A very simple way of testing your muscular fitness is with push-ups. You can time yourself, and see how many you do in that timeframe. Or, you can just complete as many push-ups as possible before fatigue sets in.

The third measurement is flexibility. This is your body’s ability to move joints and muscles through a full range of motion. It can also relate to your balance and coordination levels. A tight muscle can prevent normal movement. The most common way to measure your flexibility is via the dreaded sit and reach test. With this test, you’ll need a measuring tape. Place the measuring tape along the floor. With your feet at zero, and the tape stretching away from you, sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Try to touch your feet or stretch as far past your feet as possible. Have a friend check how far you went on the measuring tape. If you can’t reach your toes, you’ll have a negative number. If you stretch past your feet, you’ll have a positive number. Obviously, the more flexible your legs, hips, and lower back are, the further you will be able to reach in this test. One problem, though, is that your flexibility in each joint is independent of your other joints. Therefore, you may have very flexible shoulder joints, but terribly tight hamstrings.

The fourth measurement is your body composition. This tends to relate to the amount of fat on your body, and where that fat is located. The location of fat at specific sites (in particular, the waist area) places you at higher risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. A simple way of measuring your body composition is via your body mass index (BMI). This is your body weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of your height (in meters). For example, if your weight is 61 kilograms, and your height is 1.69 meters, then your BMI calculation would be

61
(1.69 x 1.69)

That’s a BMI of 21.36. There are also charts that allow you to look up your BMI based on your height and weight. The range for a normal BMI is 18.5 – 25. You will fall into the overweight range if your BMI is anywhere between 25 – 30. Obese is anything greater than 30. Underweight is anything under 18.5.

Another important body composition test is to measure your waist. Anything larger than 40 inches for men, and 35 inches for women increases your health risks. This is particularly important to take notice of if your BMI is larger than 25.

So how fit are you? But more importantly, how fit do you intend to be? Set your goals, work your program, and watch as those numbers go down, down, down.

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