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Treating obesity

Obesity management programme: How to find the best exercises for you

Regular exercise is really important for healthy weight management. Being physically active can also have other benefits, like improving cardiorespiratory fitness, mobility, and strength. In addition, exercise contributes to a better quality of life by improving mental and social well-being. Here’s what you need to know when starting a physical activity programme as part of weight management - including the best science-backed exercises and tips to help you get started.

4 min. read

Start exercising for your weight management programme

Regular exercise should be a key part of any weight management programme. Though it can be daunting to start a new exercise regime, there are some ways to make it more manageable and more fun. And so, you can work on managing weight in a healthy way. 
 

What are the best exercises to help you manage weight?

Research shows that the most effective way to manage weight is with a combination of aerobic exercise, resistance exercise, and more daily physical activity. For better weight management combine your exercise plan with healthier ways of eating

Here are 3 science-backed recommendations for weight management and the best exercises to add to your obesity management programme.
 

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is the most effective way to lower body fat and improve your cardiorespiratory fitness.

For the best weight management programme, doctors recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week. This can be separated into 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 5 days per week.

Here are some easy aerobic exercise ideas to try:

  • Brisk walking
  • Stationary bike
  • Dancing
  • Football
  • Elliptical machine

You can do these exercises on your own or as part of a dedicated exercise class. To make your weight management programme more manageable, try to find activities that you enjoy doing. For instance, you might like to try walking with a friend or taking a dance class.
 

Resistance exercise

Resistance exercise (also known as strength training or weight training) involves using your muscle strength to move a weight. 

Doing resistance exercises increases fat-free mass, which may increase your resting metabolic rate (the total number of calories you burn when your body is at rest). It can also make you stronger, enabling you to participate in more activities and use more energy. Resistance training can mean healthy changes in the body and may play an important role in successful long-term weight management.

In addition to aerobic exercise, it may be good to add 2 to 3 sessions of resistance training per week into your weight management programme.

Some examples of resistance exercise training include:

  • Lifting free weights
  • Using weight training machines
  • Using elastic resistance bands
  • Body weight exercises (such as push-ups, sit-ups, and squats)

Don't worry if you're just starting out with resistance training or aren't able to lift much weight. These exercises can be adjusted so that they're in line with your abilities. For example, try using light weights and low resistance elastic bands to gradually build up your strength. You can also do modified versions of body weight exercises.
 

How does losing weight improve your health?

See how losing 13% of your body weight can lower your risk of developing certain obesity-related complications.

Stay physically active

In addition to exercising more, staying physically active is also beneficial for your heart health.

Some easy ways to do this are:

  • Doing chores around the home (including vacuuming, tidying up, cooking)
  • Commuting to work (including walking, cycling, climbing stairs)
  • Leisure activities and hobbies (including swimming, dancing, dog-walking)

With some small adjustments, you can dramatically increase how much you move and boost the effectiveness of your weight management programme. You can also create lifelong healthy habits that'll help you to keep the weight off.
 

What can you do before you start exercising?

There are 3 things to remember before starting a new exercise programme. These will help ensure that your weight management programme is safe and effective.
 

#1 Partner with your doctor

It's really important to partner with your doctor before you start any weight management programme. They can give you advice about any modifications or limitations that you need to bear in mind.

They can also provide recommendations on:

  • How often you should exercise
  • How long you should exercise
  • What type of exercises and activities you should do
  • How intense the exercises and activities should be
  • How you can change your routines as you make progress or experience challenges

This is critical if you suffer from any additional conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.

It can be helpful to find an obesity care provider who specialises in obesity management. They can offer personalised information about the best methods for managing weight. 
 

#2 Get the right equipment

It’s a good idea to invest in the right equipment to make your exercise programme easier to follow in the long-term.

Workout clothes are designed to be breathable, so it’s easier for your body to regulate your temperature and cool down. Opt for loosely fitted clothing that feels comfortable on your body. If you have problems with chafing during exercise, try applying petroleum jelly on your thighs or armpits to prevent this.

Specially-designed sports shoes can also provide the support and cushioning you need for your workouts. This is essential to reduce the risk of exercise-related injuries, prevent slipping, and minimise the impact on your joints.
 

#3 Find a workout buddy

A great way to make your exercise programme more fun is to find a workout buddy or accountability partner.

Get the help of a close friend, family member, or someone you trust to follow your exercise programme with you. You can exercise together or arrange regular check-ins to monitor your progress through your weight management programme.

A workout buddy can help motivate you, give you emotional support, and make exercising more fun and less stressful.
 

How do you get a good start for managing your weight?

There's no one-size-fits all approach to managing weight. Find the exercise plan that works for you, depending on your lifestyle.

If you're starting a weight management programme, remember to start small and gradually increase your workouts as your fitness improves. Find obesity care providers to get expert guidance on your weight management journey.

References
  • Obesity Canada. Physical activity in obesity management. https://obesitycanada.ca/guidelines/physicalactivity/ [Accessed January 2022].
  • Said MA et al. Multidisciplinary approach to obesity: Aerobic or resistance physical exercise?. Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness 2018; 16(3):118-123.
  • Yumuk V, Tsigos C, Fried M, et al. European guidelines for obesity management in adults. Obes Facts. 2015; 8(6): 402- 424. 
  • American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and American College of Endocrinology comprehensive clinical practice guidelines for medical care of patients with obesity. Endocr Pract. 2016.
  • Alberga AS, Sigal RJ, Kenny GP. A review of resistance exercise training in obese adolescents. Phys Sportsmed 2011; 39(2):50-63.
  • Strasser B & Schobersberger W. Evidence for Resistance Training as a Treatment Therapy in Obesity. Journal of Obesity 2011.
  • Petridou A, Siopi A, Mougios V. Exercise in the management of obesity. Metabolism 2019; 92:163-169.
  • Frey M. Verywellfit. How to start a workout routine if you're overweight. https://www.verywellfit.com/best-workouts-if-youre-overweight-3495993 [Accessed November 2021].
  • Hills AP & Byrne NM. Physical activity in the management of obesity. Clinics in Dermatology 2004; 22(4):315-318.
  • Lachman ME et al. When Adults Don't Exercise: Behavioral Strategies to Increase Physical Activity in Sedentary Middle-Aged and Older Adults. Innov Aging 2018; 2(1):igy007.

Find your local obesity care provider

Talk to your obesity care provider about treatment options that could prevent the weight you lose from coming back.

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