We all know that exercise is beneficial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But for morbidly obese individuals, simply moving up and down the stairs or getting out of a chair can be challenging. Understandably, having to consider an exercise routine would be extremely discouraging.

The key is to start with gradual amounts of low intensity exercise which has been shown to provide tremendous benefits to the body. The low intensity exercises described below can be a great start. Remember to start off slow and steady and you will be on your way to a healthier you!

Top Tips

  1. WALK: Start with 2-5 minutes per day
  2. EXERCISE BALL: Start by sitting on the ball and then try balancing with one foot of the floor.
  3. CHAIR EXERCISES: Leg lifts, neck stretches, and arm curls. Start without the use of weights and gradually add in small hand and ankle weights.
  4. POOL ACCESS: Walking, using a kick board, or bobbing in the water.
  5. RECUMBENT BIKE: Start with 5 minutes and gradually increase the time and intensity of your rides.
  6. STATIC MUSCLE CONTRACTIONS: Contract every muscle individually for 30 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds.
  7. USE A PEDOMETER: It will track your steps throughout the day.
  8. RESISTANCE BANDS: Be creative! Use your arms, back, legs and abdominals.
  9. DANCE: Turn on your favorite song and start moving with the rhythm.
  10. YOGA: Bariatric Yoga is a great way to strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and reduce stress.

The Top 10 in Detail

  1. WALKING. Start with 2-5 minutes daily and increase by 2 minutes every third day. The ideal goal is 30 minutes daily but you can break it into smaller segments of 5 or 10 minutes. Invest in comfortable walking or running shoes in order to support the arches of your feet.
  2. EXERCISE BALL.Sitting on the ball will help improve overall balance, stability, and abdominal strength. This exercise can be done at work while sitting at your desk or in the evening while watching your favorite TV show. Once you have mastered sitting on the ball, try balancing on the ball with one foot off the floor and hold for 10 seconds, rest, and repeat. Make sure you get the right ball for your weight and height.
  3. CHAIR EXERCISES. The routines and options with chair exercises are endless. Start with core twists, leg lifts, neck stretches, and arm curls all while sitting relaxed in a chair. Start without the use of weights and gradually add in small hand and ankle weights. These small movements can help tone muscle and burn calories. Check out your local library for DVDs or the Internet to purchase exercise videos.
  4. POOL ACCESS. If you have access to a pool, swimming is one of the best exercises for cardiovascular and weight loss benefits. It is easy on the joints and burns a significant amount of calories. Even just walking in the water, using a kick board, or bobbing in the water can reap benefits. If you have access to a water aerobics class, take advantage.
  5. RECUMBENT BIKE. Using a recumbent bike is a terrific piece of cardio equipment for individuals with back problems. The position of the seat and extension of the legs to pedal allows you to exercise while in a natural, comfortable position with little stress on the joints. Start with 5 minutes and gradually increase the time and intensity of your rides.
  6. STATIC MUSCLE CONTRACTIONS. While sitting comfortably, contract every muscle individually for 30 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds. Start this exercise at the head and work towards the toes. This is a great muscle strengthening exercise.
  7. USE A PEDOMETER. If time is an issue or walking for long periods of time is difficult, invest in a pedometer that will track your steps throughout the day. This is a great motivating tool to help individuals add in small steps during daily activities. For example, try parking your car a bit farther away, take the steps, or walk to a coworkers desk instead of emailing. Average your steps over a three day time frame and then increase your steps daily by 100.
  8. RESISTANCE BANDS. Resistance bands are excellent for strength training and can be used by all fitness levels. Make sure to get a variety of bands that are color-coded according to tension level and test them out for comfort. Be creative with the bands and utilize them for a variety of exercises that engage all major muscle groups (back, arms, legs, abdominals).
  9. DANCE. Turn on your favorite song and start waving your arms in the air to the beat. Slowly start sliding side to side with your feet and lift your knees to the music. Try and get your whole body involved and let loose. The key is movement.
  10. YOGA. Yoga is a great way to strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and reduce stress. Many recreational facilities provide yoga classes free of charge or you can rent a video from your local library or watch an interactive video from the Internet.

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