12 Ways to Start Exercising for Older Adults Struggling with Obesity

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By: Chris Freytag, CPT // December 5, 2023


Beginning an exercise routine when you are obese can be challenging, but that shouldn’t deter you from getting started!

No matter what your age, it’s important to approach your goals with patience, consistency, and a focus on your overall well-being.

Here are 12 steps to help you start exercising if you’re an older adult dealing with obesity.

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    1. Talk to Your Doctor

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    Before beginning any exercise program, consult your doctor or a healthcare professional, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific needs and limitations.

    2. Start Slow

    Woman woking out in her chair.
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    This is the MOST important! Don’t overdo it on day one.  You will likely become discouraged, sore, and possibly even injured. 

    Begin with low-impact exercises that are gentle on your joints, such as walking, swimming, or cycling. Start with short durations, even as little as 10 minutes a day, and gradually increase the time as your endurance improves.

    3. Set Realistic Goals

    Woman in blue swimsuit and white shirt holding dumbbells on the beach.
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    Set achievable, realistic, and specific goals. Set goals about consistent movement, not just weight loss!

    Instead of aiming for significant weight loss at the start, focus on creating healthy exercise habits. Goals like walking for 10-15 minutes a day or reducing sedentary time can be a good start. Keep track of your daily activity and progress.

    4. Find Activities You Enjoy

    A walking pad treadmill next to small dumbbells and a workout ball.
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    Look for activities you enjoy doing. Whether dancing, walking, biking, or playing a sport, finding something you like increases the likelihood of sticking with it in the long run! 

    If you hate the exercise you choose, you won’t stick with it. There is no one right form of exercise; you need to think about what YOU like.

    5. Consider Support

    Two women working out together.
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    Exercise with a friend or family member, or consider joining a support group. Having someone to exercise with can provide motivation and make the experience more enjoyable.

    You can also find an accountability partner — someone who will check in with you daily to give you encouragement and support.

    6. Modify Your Diet

    A variety of healthy foods included in an anti-inflammatory diet.
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    While exercise is important, weight loss is also significantly influenced by diet. (You can’t out-train a bad diet!)

    No matter how you slice it, it’s calories in vs. calories out.  Of course, the type of calories matters, so start eliminating processed foods and try to eat real foods like fruits and veggies. 

    Don’t change everything at once, but be mindful and focused. You can also consult a nutritionist or dietitian to create a balanced meal plan that supports your exercise routine and overall health goals.

    7. Focus on Strength Training

    A pair of small pink dumbbells next to a sports bra and shoes.
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    Incorporate strength training exercises into your routine. Building muscle mass can boost your metabolism and help with weight loss. Start with bodyweight exercises and gradually introduce light weights.

    8. Be Mindful of Your Body

    woman with heat pack
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    Listen to your body. If you experience pain (not to be confused with the usual discomfort of exercise), it’s a sign to stop and rest. Pushing yourself too hard, especially in the beginning, can lead to injuries.

    9. Track Your Progress

    Happy woman on a scale
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    Keep a record of your workouts. Tracking your progress, whether it’s the number of steps, minutes of activity, or your strength training routine, can be motivating and help you stay on course!

    10. Be Patient and Persistent

    Silhouette of a cyclist riding a bike in the sunrise by the water.
    Photo Credit: Depositphotos

    Understand that progress may be slow, and setbacks might happen. Stay persistent and be patient with yourself.

    Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem.  You didn’t gain the weight overnight, and you won’t lose it overnight, either. You’re in it for the long haul, and you’ll get there!

    11. Stay Hydrated and Well-Rested

    Woman pouring water from a pitcher of lemon water into a glass.
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    Drink plenty of water, especially when exercising. Also, ensure you get enough sleep, as rest is crucial for your body’s recovery and overall well-being.

    12. Consider Professional Guidance

    Instructor helping plus size woman on a stationary bike at the gym.
    Photo Credit: Depositphotos

    If possible, work with a certified fitness trainer experienced in working with individuals who are obese. You can also join an online program with beginner exercise programs that are well-instructed.

    Remember, the key is to make sustainable changes to your lifestyle. Small, consistent efforts over time can lead to significant improvements in your health and fitness!

    Walking For Weight Loss | Your 14-Day Plan

    older couple power walking
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    Guess what—walking works! Study after study proves that people who walk regularly stay more youthful, stronger, and happier in old age. To get started, try my free 14-day challenge and get walking for a weight loss plan.

    Whether you like to walk on a machine, around your workplace, or in your neighborhood, walking can and should easily be incorporated into your daily life!

    Walking For Weight Loss | Your 14-Day Plan

    The Best Core Exercises for Seniors

    Three women doing glute bridges on yoga mats.
    Photo Credit: Shutterstock

    Ab workouts aren’t limited to athletes and the under-30 crowd!

    As a matter of fact, seniors rank as one of the top groups who should be doing core strengthening exercises regularly because targeting your midsection with exercises that sculpt and strengthen is key to staying healthy and active.

    The Best Core Exercises for Seniors

    Yoga For Beginners | A Complete Guide To Get Started

    woman stretching outside
    Photo Credit: Shutterstock

    If you’ve wanted to begin yoga but don’t know where to start, have no fear! This yoga for beginners guide has everything you need to succeed.

    Learn the different types and benefits of yoga, as well as guidance on how to get started and choose the practice that works best for you!

    Yoga For Beginners | A Complete Guide To Get Started



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