How To Make Exercise Empowering When You Are Obese

Body Positivity, Fitness, Lifestyle, Mindset, Training Advice, Training Tips

By: // March 8, 2019

If you are obese or overweight, exercise can be a tricky topic. Often, working out with extra weight becomes a vicious, negative cycle. Excess body weight puts stress on your joints, bones, and connective tissue, making many workouts too uncomfortable or even impossible to do. In addition, the extra weight makes you work harder than an average-sized person; so while both of you are doing the same jumping jacks, you’re breathing harder and sweat is pouring out. All of this might turn you off to exercise, make you become even more sedentary, and consider it easier to stay stuck where you are. And so the vicious cycle continues. So what should you do? How can you make exercise empowering when you are obese?

Start With Positive Motivation

Obesity—or having excessive body fat—is not a simple cosmetic issue. That fat also surrounds your internal organs,  increasing your risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and a myriad of other health concerns. But chances are, you already know that. You don’t need another lecture about the health dangers of being overweight; you need positive motivation to make healthier choices for your own peace of mind. You don’t need societal pressure shaming you into submission—which never works, by the way. You need to feel embraced and loved for who you are right now, while being reminded that you are worthy of putting your health first. You need to get un-stuck. You need motivation to finally lose the weight and keep it off. And you’ve come to the right place. This article is written to:

  • EMPOWER you to get off your chair and move
  • ENCOURAGE you to step outside your comfort zone
  • EMBRACE a full, active life because you love yourself
Workout because you love your body, not because you hate it. Click to Tweet

So let’s get to it. Start with the positive mindset that you deserve to be healthy. Exercise is not a punishment, it’s a privilege. Let’s learn some tips on how to start an exercise regimen when you’re obese, and then we’ll discuss different workout options that might work for you.

How To Start Exercising When You’re Obese

In order to break the sedentary lifestyle cycle, you have to be brave enough to take that first step. The hardest thing for anyone searching to incorporate fitness into his or her life is just getting started. What do you do? Where do you begin? Here are some tips that have helped many other people who were once in your shoes:

1. Schedule It

Get your workouts on the calendar and set a reminder. It seems so simple but this might be the most important thing you do. This is now part of your day, not an optional addendum. It’s who you are. You are “fit person” not a “fat person,” and fit people make exercise a priority. Consider your workouts appointments you cannot miss.

2. Make A Plan

Simple, achievable goals are the only goals consistently met. “Today I will walk around the block.” Or “Today I will spend 10 minutes on the stationary bike.” Smaller is better! Once you’ve met your small goal for the week, you can add just little more to it. Write your goals for the week down and put them where you’ll see them. Check-lists are good therapy!

3. Tell Someone Else

Accountability does wonders. Choose someone you trust and let them know your plan. Ask them to check in on you and see how it went. Better yet, have them join you!  Don’t have anyone you trust? Join our private facebook group. You’ll find people at all different places in their fitness journey, but everyone will encourage you to keep going forward!

4. Get Equipped

The shoes matter more than the clothes. Find shoes that fit and support your workout. If you’re going to spend any money on this new venture, put it into your shoes. Then, make sure to get some comfy clothing that supports your movement. YES many people squeeze into tight leggings and form-fitting tanks. NO you don’t have to in order to be a success. Wear what makes you comfortable.

Related: 13 Best Brands For Plus-Sized Workout Clothing

5. Start Slow

The goal is to start exercising little by little, not overdo it and end up frustrated or burnt out right away. Biting off more than they can chew is a common mistake people make when beginning an exercise regimen. Gentle, easy exercise is definitely the way to go! Just as not doing it becomes a cycle, doing simple and easy workouts will lead to success and soon you’ll be craving a little more and a little more. Before you know it you surprise yourself with things you never imagined you could do. Please also check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.

The Best Ways To Work Out When You Are Obese

Use these tips to get started exercising when you're obese.

The first thing I have to mention is if you are going to make the decision to move your body (yeah you!), you have to also commit to a healthier eating plan. You can’t out-train a bad diet and we have lots of help on this website for you to start your clean eating journey. That being said, exercising when you are overweight or obese can prove to be a monumental challenge. Things that come easy for the averaged-size person might put too much stress on your joints causing knee or hip pain. In addition, things that are easy for an average size person to maneuver like a stationary bike or a BOSU ball may not work with your body size. Let’s take a look at some of the exercise choices that work better for overweight or obese people.

1. Walking

The number one choice of doctors, fitness professionals and most average people is simple walking. It’s low impact, easy to do, and accessible to anyone. You don’t need a gym membership or a trainer. Just step outside your door, or look for the nearest mall or grocery store and get some steps in. Remember to start small. Even 2-5 minutes a day for the first week is a good goal. After that, you can add another 2 minutes every third day. Want a walking partner? Not interested in walking in public? Try our GetHealthyU TV Walk & Tone Program. This is a walking workout you can do right in your own home with Chris Freytag smiling, guiding you and encouraging you every step of the way.

2. Recumbent Bike

A recumbent bike is another way to avoid putting too much impact on your joints. Of course, the first thing that might come to mind for an obese person (and most other people for that matter) is the obnoxiously small size of the cycle seat. But I’m not talking about a regular upright bike with the small seat. Search out a recumbent bike and take your workout to another angle. The recumbent bike leans back, taking the weight of the body off the rear end and allowing you to move your legs from a reclined position. Your feet are out in front of you which helps with circulation and no impact! In addition, the seats on these bikes are bigger so it won’t feel quite as awkward.

3. Water Exercise

Gravity can be a fickle friend when you’re overweight; that brings us to the beauty of aquatic exercise. The water reduces the gravitational load on your body by as much as 90 percent! This makes your joints much happier and allows for an increased range of motion. In addition, the water brings with it a big variety of choices. Water exercise classes abound and can be a fun choice for the social creature in you. Check the nearest gym, rec center or high school to see what might be available. Many communities offer classes at a low cost for residents. Would you rather do it on your own? Water walking or jogging is an excellent choice. Or maybe you have some swimming lessons to resurrect from your past. Swimming puts your whole body to work and allows a sense of freedom under the water that can’t be found anywhere else.

4. Elliptical Machines

A large fitness center may not be your number one choice. However, different strokes for different folks and if you aren’t afraid of entering such a facility you have a big advantage. There are a variety of exercise machines that provide a low-impact opportunity to work out. Perhaps the most popular and efficient of these is the elliptical machine. While these machines come in several varieties and all look a little different, they are in essence the same. Your legs and arms move back and forth, getting your heart rate to go up and making for an efficient use of your time. Keep the resistance low to moderate to protect your knees and move at a comfortable, easy pace for some time.

5. Light Weights

Strength training is important for people of every size. Building your muscle will help turn your metabolism up and shed some of that excess fat. Using light weights to begin with is all you need to get the ball rolling. Search out some 3 or 5 lb dumbbells and check out these basic strength training moves below. Click below the image for detailed instruction on how to perform them.

Basic Strength Training Moves

Glute Bridge

Try a glute bridge to lose weight.

Click here to learn how to do a Glute Bridge

Arnold Press

Try this exercise if you are obese.

Click here to learn how to do an Arnold Press.

Tricep Extension

Tricep overhead extensions are great for when you want to lose weight.

Click here to learn how to do a Tricep Extension

Lateral Shoulder Raise 

Use these moves to get in shape when you are obese.

Click here to learn how to do a Lateral Shoulder Raise

Glute Kicker 

Try this move if you are overweight and want to get in shape.

Click here to learn how to do a glute kicker. 

Single Arm Row 

Use this exercise to work your upper body

Click here to learn how to do a single arm row

Whatever workout you choose, find something you will enjoy. Make the choice that today is the day you will take care of YOU! And embrace whatever comes your way. Make mistakes. Take pride in every accomplishment, no matter how small. Be thankful your body can move—after all, that is what it was designed to do!

READ THIS NEXT: What I’d Say To My Overweight Self

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on April 17, 2019 at 11:50 AM Reply

I have lost 13.5 kgs in a span of 6 months...I eat right..go to weights ..swimming etc..I m 75 kgs now HV to loose 15 kgs more. But I have lost interest...feel bored and fed up..I have 3 litres of water..everyday..but now I don't feel like. What should I do

    on May 31, 2019 at 9:06 AM Reply

    Hi there - Well first off, congratulations on your health and fitness journey! It sounds like you are doing all of the right things such as eating healthy, exercising, and drinking lots of water. All of these play a factor into the weight loss game. With that being said I am sorry to hear that you are bored and fed up, but don't give up just yet! I know that you can do it. My biggest piece of advice is to find things you like. Whether thats weight lifting, whether its cardio, you have to find something that you enjoy. This is so important to stay motivated to want to workout. You also want to find foods that you like to eat but are healthy as well. This one can sometimes be a little harder to maintain but when you really dig deep into food labels and making sure that you are staying away from as much processed food as possible, you then have to find what you like. Working out and finding a weight loss plan for you is what is most important. And then finding an accountability partner is also huge. Someone who is going to help you in times when you're less motivated, someone who you can push as well. I am going to link you to a few my blogs in hope that you can continue to maintain motivation in your journey! Remember YES YOU CAN!

on January 18, 2019 at 7:01 AM Reply

I need to start somewhere I have been away for 8yrs my body is so stiff and im afraid I might hurt myself.I am currently 6ft1 inch in height I weigh 305lbs ima 47 yr old man need some ideas

    on February 13, 2019 at 1:56 PM Reply

    Hi Christopher - glad to hear you're interested in getting back into exercise. We all have to start somewhere! Definitely check out our beginner's guides. You can find all of them in the menu tab of our website or by typing "beginner guide" in our search bar. You will find lots of good information for how to start exercising and how to stay consistent. Good luck!

(This will help us personalize your experience so that you can get the best advice possible from us!)
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