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Starting Exercise Plan for Morbidly Obese


QUESTION:

I'm extremely overweight and sedentary but I've made a resolution, with the support of my doctor, to begin exercising.  However, I have never been an exerciser and I don't know where to even start.  I get out of breath even when walking down the hall.  I have a computer job working out of my home and rarely get out of the house.  How do I start exercising?

ANSWER:

Congratulations on making the decision to get moving!  Exercise will not only help you feel better but it will improve your health and enhance both the longevity and quality of your life.  Your question of where to start is easy to answer.  You simply start at the beginning.  You start moving little by little, pushing a little more each day.  It's easy to fear the unknown and imagine the task of exercise as complicated and difficult.  However, there is no secret to exercise.  Our bodies are designed to move.

Everyone has a different beginning and your only task is to identify yours and go with it.  If you are accustomed to sitting at your computer for hours at a time, start with the goal that you will get up out of your chair for 5 minutes every hour.  Walk down the hallway and back.  Do overhead arm-raises every hour.  Don't be afraid of getting out of breath.  This is a normal response to exercise.  Once your body gets used to this amount of walking, increase the distance - maybe down your front walk to the street and back.  Don't think that this could never make a difference.  Any activity above what you're currently doing is an improvement and a step in the right direction.

You'll be amazed at how quickly your body trains and improves.  The key is to slowly progress by adding a bit more activity as you build up your fitness level.  For example, as you're able, add small hand weights (soup cans do the trick) to your arm exercises and eventually carve out 2 longer walks a day in your routine, maybe around the block.  However, don't forget your hourly "get up out of your chair" task.  Research shows that simply moving about throughout the day makes a significant difference in calories burned.  Walking that message to your neighbor instead of emailing it, or getting up out of your chair to answer the phone or to change the TV channel, it all adds up!

Just because you're a beginner, don't let the exercise fanatics of the world intimidate you!  Everyone starts somewhere and by starting at your personal beginning and staying with it, you will be fitter tomorrow than you are today.  Don't let the goal of getting fit overwhelm you either.  Take one day at time, if that's too much to fathom, take one hour at time.  Before you know it, that walk down the hall will be a cinch!

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Our expert, Dr. Sharon E. Griffin, holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in the areas of exercise science/physiology.  She also holds a second M.S. degree in Nutrition and is a licensed nutritionist and an ACSM certified health and fitness instructor.

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