How to Workout with Medical Issues…Being Overweight

Many of us are aware of the fact that 2/3 of the US population is overweight and 1/3 of it is obese (and those numbers are still on the rise). Of that 2/3 there are more men overweight, but there are more women than men in the obese category. It seams that with our increase in technological ease comes an increase in our waist lines. The recommendations for getting out of the Lazy Boy and moving is 30 minutes of accumulated exercise each day (at least) but the average American does not get 30 minutes of accumulated exercise in a week. What I am going to try and do is break down exercise for someone overweight into an easy information system that can be followed to aid in starting weight loss and healthier habits.

With all the infomercials on TV showing weight loss pills, shake weights and new fad exercise stuff its hard to know what to do to lose weight. I always like to say, you did not gain all your weight overnight, it won’t come off that quickly either. There have been many studies looking into what causes excessive weight gain; being too much food, too little exercise or both. One key factor that is consistently present in weight gain of children, adolescents and adults is a sedentary lifestyle!

  • Excess weight gain has been shown be closer related to reduced physical activity rather than increase eating.
  • Studies have shown that excessive weight gain among children, adolescents and adults is directly related to hours spent watching TV; each 2-hr a day increment in TV watching coincided with a 23% increase in obesity and 14% rise in diabetes risk.
  • Overweight individuals often do not eat more on average than persons of normal weight.

So now that we know we need to take steps to increase our activities and get our diet under control to begin a long term weight loss habit, what is the next step? We should try to create a negative energy balance (burn more calories than we consume) through:

  1. Increasing the amount of calories we burn with daily activities:
    • Normal daily activity – this means walking to work or the grocery store, move as much as possible, don’t take the easy route
    • Daily exercise – increase your exercise intensity or duration
  2. Improve physical fitness
  3. Alter body fat and fat distribution

Debunking two myths about exercising:

  1. Exercise causes one’s appetite to increase; negating the calories burned performing that exercise.
    • This is a two part answer depending on body type: first the athletic/fit person, who could require 5000 kcals daily, needs to consume much more energy (food) to maintain their current weight and fitness level. Second is the overweight person, whose large energy reserve makes it easier to tolerate weight loss without that increase in post workout calorie consumption.
    • In a nutshell most people who workout and then eat a lot of food afterwards are the thinner athletes who need to eat a lot to maintain their weight, where as the overweight people don’t need to eat near as much post workout because their body is using their fat stores for energy.
  2. Working out does not have as much of a “dent” on the body’s fat store as dieting does.
    • Many people feel that is takes some huge amount of exercise in one outing to burn off 1 lb of fat (3500 kcals); for instance it would take someone playing golf for 20 hours to burn off 1 lb of fat. This is true, and no one wants to play golf for that long, so lets figure out how to make it work…shorter rounds of golf more often. If someone played golf for just 2 hrs a day two days a week it would take them 5 wks to lose that 1 lb of fat. Remember slow and steady wins the race, in a year this person would be down 10 lbs of fat. Who wouldn’t want to lose 10 lbs of fat with golfing twice a week?
    • Remember, the calorie expending effects of exercise will add up, whether it happens rapidly or over an extended period of time.

Resistance training for people looking to lose weight can be very beneficial by burning over 9 kcal a minute, increasing muscular strength and endurance and increasing one’s Fat Free Mass.

  • Ideal exercise consists of using large muscle groups during moderate to high calorie burning exercises (such as swimming, stair climbing, circuit training).
  • A reasonable goal would be to progressively increase the moderate activity between 60 and 90 min daily.
  • Increase total daily energy expenditure substantially and regularly rather than increase exercise intensity to induce a training response (increase exercise duration before intensity).
  • Exercise a minimum of 3 days a week to do favorable changes to your body composition.
  • Make it a goal to burn at least 300 kcal in each exercise session.
  • Meaningful changes in bodyweight and composition will happen over at least 12 weeks.
  • Think about adding lifestyle changes in your daily physical activity, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • People that join a weight loss program or exercise with friends lose more weight than those trying to do it alone!
  • Weight bearing cardio exercises will be the best for losing weight safely and at a faster pace.

The ideal combination for weight loss…Diet plus Exercise. Combining diet with exercise allows people more flexibility in their weight loss plan and gives them longevity in maintaining that fat loss. By combining diet with exercise two you reduce the intense feelings of hunger seen by dieting alone and you protect against muscle loss by exercising aerobically or with weights. Some experts think that its not exactly the increase in structured exercise that aids in weight loss but rather the psychologic-behavioral aspects that change ones “regular” physical activity; meaning that when people start to go for walks instead of watching TV, join a sports team and start to move again there is better sustained weight loss than just going to a gym regularly.

Weight loss really is in the hands of the individual seeking it. You want to be the tortoise in this race, slow and steady to win the race; after all the weight didn’t suddenly appear on your body so don’t expect it suddenly drop off overnight. A quote from the National Task Force on the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity best summarizes weight loss: “obese individuals who undertake weight loss efforts should be ready to commit to lifelong changes their behavioral patterns, diet and physical activity.” Also remember that there is strength in numbers; so go find a friend or coworker to join you in your weight loss adventure. If you would like more information on weight loss or just have questions on how to get started please feel free to contact Fitness Director Jacob Galloway.



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