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Starting exercise when you are already overweight

“I’m too unfit to exercise,” “I’m too big to exercise,” “I have too many joint problems to exercise.”

Feel like you aren’t able to exercise because you are already overweight, and you wouldn’t know where to start or if it’s even safe? Here are the steps to getting fit when you are starting at the very start.

1: Get medical clearance

Being overweight/obese can (but not always) come with certain medical conditions such as diabetes, joint pain, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and others.

This is why it is best to speak to your doctor before you start exercising. If they haven’t already, they can run blood tests or organise for an exercise stress test (if needed) so that they can give you the all clear for safety, or advise on limitations you should adhere to to stay safe.

2: Get support

We don’t mean the emotional kind- we mean the physical kind. Supportive and comfortable shoes, supportive exercise clothes like sports bras or leggings/shorts with inbuilt supportive bike pants. Otherwise keep it loose, with fabric that can breathe and cope with sweat.

3: Strap yourself in

It is a good idea to wear a heart rate monitor when starting exercise, especially if you have a history of heart problems, blood pressure, high cholesterol, you smoke, or are a little older. You can work out your target heart rate range and know that you are safe to exercise within this- usually moderate intensity exercise is just fine.

Aim for around 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. What’s you maximum heart rate? The easiest way to estimate it is to take the number 220, and then minus your age, so if you are 50: 220-50=170 beats/min. 50-70% of this is 85-119 beats per minute.

4: Get help

Find someone who you get along well with, whose style matches with your personality (shouting military style may not go down so well with shy/anxious types), and has a high level of expertise and experience in training those who are overweight/obese and understands the limitations and challenges that will be unique to you.

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