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Active at Any Size
feel that you
can barely do any activity at all?
That you cannot exercise, play sports, or become more fit?
you are a very large person,
you can still be physically active.
special challenges in trying to be active. You may not be able to bend
or move in the same way that other people can. It may be hard to find
clothes and equipment for exercising. You may feel self-conscious being
physically active around other people.
challenges is hard—but it can be done!
this booklet may help you start being more active and
matter what your size!
should I be active?
active may help you live
and protect you from:
- heart disease and
- high blood pressure
- osteoporosis (a
disease leading to weak bones that may break easily)
If you have any of
these health problems, being physically active may help control or
improve your symptoms.
activity helps you feel
- lowers your stress and
boosts your mood
- increases your
- helps control blood
pressure and blood sugar
- helps build healthy
bones, muscles, and joints
- helps your heart and
lungs work better
- improves your
physically active can be big fun!
How do I get started?
To start being more active and keep at it:
slowly. Your body needs time to
get used to your new activity.
up. Warm-ups get your body
ready for action. Shrug your shoulders, tap your toes, swing your arms,
or march in place. You should spend a few minutes warming up for any
physical activity—even walking. Walk more slowly for the
first few minutes.
down. Slow down little by
little. If you have been walking fast, walk slowly or stretch for a few
minutes to cool down. Cooling down may protect your heart, relax your
muscles, and keep you from getting hurt.
goals. Set short-term and
long-term goals. A short-term goal may be to walk 5 minutes on at least
3 days for 1 week. It may not seem like a lot, but any activity is
better than none. A long-term goal may be to walk 30 minutes on most
days of the week by the end of 6 months.
support. Get a family
member or friend to be physically active with you. It may be more fun,
and your buddy can cheer you on.
progress. Keep a journal of
your physical activity. You may not feel like you are making progress
but when you look back at where you started, you may be pleasantly
fun! Try different
activities to find the ones you really enjoy.
What physical activities can
very large person do?
| Most very large
people can do some or all of the physical activities in this booklet.
You do not need special skills or a lot of equipment. You
activities, like walking
and golfing, which involve lifting or pushing your own body weight.
swimming and water workouts, which put less stress on your joints
because you do not have to lift or push your own weight. If your feet
or joints hurt when you stand, non-weight-bearing activities may be
best for you.
activities, like gardening,
which do not have to be planned.
Physical activity does
not have to be hard or boring to be good for you. Anything that gets
you moving around—even for only a few minutes a
day—is a healthy start to getting more fit.
Chances are your
health care provider will be pleased with your decision to start an
activity program. It is unlikely that you will need a complete medical
exam before you go out for a short walk!
The walking that you
do during the day (like doing chores around the house or in the yard)
can help you be more fit. But regular, steady walking that makes you
breathe heavier can help you to be healthier. It will give your heart
and lungs—as well as your leg muscles—a good
If you are not active
now, start slowly. Try to walk 5 minutes a day for the first week. Walk
8 minutes the next week. Stay at 8–minute walks until you
feel comfortable. Then increase your walks to 11 minutes. Slowly
lengthen each walk by 3 minutes—or walk faster.
- Wear comfortable
walking shoes with a lot of support. If you walk often, you may need to
buy new shoes every 6 to 8 months.
- Wear garments that
prevent inner thigh chafing, such as tights or spandex shorts.
- Make walking fun. Walk
with a friend or pet. Walk in places you enjoy, like a park or shopping
To learn more,
read the brochure Walking...A Step in the
Right Direction from
the Weight-control Information Network (WIN). (Available in English and
- make your
- make your
lungs work better.
You can dance
health club, in a nightclub, or at home. To dance at home, just move
your body to some lively music!
is a weight-bearing activity. Dancing while seated lets you move your
arms and legs to music while taking the weight off your feet. This may
be a good choice if you can't stand on your feet very long.
the list of additional resources at the end of this booklet for seated
helps you feel:
You can bend and move your body in water in ways you cannot on land.
Working against the water will help your body get stronger.
less risk of injury.
Water makes your body float. This keeps your joints from being pounded
or jarred and helps prevent sore muscles and injury.
You can keep cooler in water—even when you are working hard.
not need to know how to swim to
work out in water—you can do shallow-water or deep-water
exercises without swimming.
the water level should be between your waist and your chest. If the
water is too shallow, it will be hard to move your arms underwater. If
the water is deeper than chest height, it will be hard to keep your
feet touching the pool bottom.
most of your body is underwater. This means that your whole body will
get a good workout. For safety and comfort, wear a foam belt or life
offer classes in water workouts. Check with the pools in your area to
find the best water workout for you.
the list of additional resources at the end of this booklet to learn
more about water exercises.
Weight Training (weight-bearing or
Weight training builds
strong muscles and bones. Getting stronger can also help prepare you
for other kinds of physical activity. You can weight train at home or
at a fitness center.
You do not need
benches or bars to begin weight training at home. You can use a pair of
hand weights or even two soup cans.
Make sure you know the
correct posture and that your movements are slow and controlled.
Before you buy a home
gym, check its weight rating (the number of pounds it can support) to
make sure it is safe for your size. If you want to join a fitness
center where you can use weights, shop around for one where you feel at
learn more about weight training, see the list of additional resources
at the end of this booklet.
courtesy of Bicycles by Haluzak, Santa Rosa, CA
You can bicycle
indoors on a stationary bike, or outdoors on a road bike. Biking does
not stress any one part of the body—your weight is spread
between your arms, back, and hips.
You may want to use a
recumbent bike. On this type of bike, you sit low to the ground with
your legs reaching forward to the pedals. This may feel better than
sitting upright. The seat on a recumbent bike is also wider than the
seat on an upright bike.
For biking outdoors,
you may want to try a mountain bike. These bikes have wider tires and
are heavy. You can also buy a larger seat to put on your bike.
Make sure the bike you
buy has a weight rating at least as high as your own weight..
learn more about bicycling, see the list of additional resources at the
end of this booklet.
(weight-bearing or non-weight-bearing)
- be more
- feel more
your blood flow
your muscles from getting tight
after doing other physical activities.
do not have to set aside a special time or place to stretch. At home or
at work, stand up, push your arms toward the ceiling, and stretch.
Stretch slowly and only enough to feel tightness—not until
you feel pain. Hold the stretch, without bouncing, for about 30
seconds. Do not stretch cold muscles.
Yoga and tai
types of stretching. They help you breathe deeply, relax, and get rid
center may offer yoga, tai chi, or other stretching classes. You may
want to start with "gentle" classes, like those aimed at seniors.
the list of additional resources at the end of this booklet to learn
more about these physical activities for large people.
activities do not have to be planned. You can make small changes to
make your day more physically active and improve your health. For
- Take 2- to 3-minute
walking breaks at work a few times a day.
- Put away the TV remote
control—get up to change the channel.
- March in place during
- Sit in a rocking chair
and push off the floor with your feet.
- Take the stairs
instead of the elevator.
mowing, leaf raking, gardening, and housework may also improve your
these tips for
safe physical activity.
your activity right away if you:
- have pain, tightness,
or pressure in your chest or left neck, shoulder, or arm
- feel dizzy or sick
- break out in a cold
- have muscle cramps
- feel pain in your
joints, feet, ankles, or legs. You could hurt yourself if you ignore
your health care provider what to do if you have any of these symptoms.
down if you feel out of breath.
You should be able to talk during your activity, without gasping for
lots of water before,
during, and after physical activity (even water workouts) to replace
the water you lose by sweating.
not do hard exercise for 2 hours after a big meal
(but taking a walk is OK). If you eat small meals, you can be
physically active more often.
the right clothes:
- Wear lightweight,
loose-fitting tops so you can move easily.
- Wear clothes made of
fabrics that absorb sweat and remove it from your skin.
- Never wear rubber or
plastic suits. Plastic suits could hold the sweat on your skin and make
your body overheat.
- Women should wear a
good support bra.
- Wear supportive
athletic shoes for weight-bearing activities.
- Wear a knit hat to
keep you warm when you are physically active outdoors in cold weather.
Wear a tightly woven, wide-brimmed hat in hot weather to help keep you
cool and protect you from the sun.
- Wear sunscreen when
you are physically active outdoors.
Healthy, fit bodies
come in all sizes. Whatever
your size or shape, get physically active now and keep moving for a
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