Just because you’re morbidly obese doesn’t mean you have to resort to surgery to improve your health. Although losing weight naturally is challenging, it’s not impossible. According to the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, there’s less than a 5-percent success rate among the morbidly obese, who have kept the weight off without surgery. In addition to dietary and behavioral changes, appropriate exercises can help you gradually lose weight.
Prioritize Your Safety
Morbid obesity is recognized by a body mass index that ranges anywhere from 40 to 44.9. It’s also linked to an increased risk of health conditions, such as gallstones, heart disease, cancer, and hypertension. Joint issues, and hip, knee, or lower back pain, are not uncommon. Before attempting to exercise, consult your doctor, and get full clearance. Have a certified personal trainer help you create a safe workout and weight-loss plan. Start slowly, and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts as your physical fitness improves.
Modify Lifestyle Activities
Becoming more physically active during everyday activities can be your first introduction to exercises. Rather than sitting on the couch and watching television, consider going for a walk, or when driving, park further from your destination, and walk the rest of the way. Instead of taking elevators, try climbing stairs. Gradually increase your daily activity level. You might only be able to walk for a few minutes or to climb half a flight of stairs. Eventually this all adds up, and can make a big difference.
Engage in Cardiovascular Exercise
Walking is often perceived as the ideal exercise to burn calories and lose weight. However, if you have gait abnormalities and joint pain, this seemingly easy exercise can be quite challenging. In this case, try non-weight-bearing exercises. Some examples include swimming, low-intense water aerobics, or using an ergometer, or seated stepping machine. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends slowly working your way up to doing at least 150 minutes of cardio a week.
Incorporate Muscle-Strengthening Workouts
Resistance training strengthens your muscles, which can promote your mobility; it might get easier to get up from a seated or lying position. Muscle tissue also boosts your metabolism, which is essential to weight loss. Workouts are best performed in a chair with a straight back and no armrests. Exercises can include shoulder presses, biceps curls, rows, and chest presses, with a resistance band. As you get stronger, use dumbbells. Chair squats and seated leg extensions and knee raises, are also effective, and can be done using just your body weight.
References University of California San Francisco Medical Center: Obesity Treatment
Help for Personal Trainers: Joe & Christina: Tips for Training A Morbidly Obese Client
University of Rochester Medical Center: Highland Hospital Bariatric Surgery Center: What is Morbid Obesity?
Management of Morbid Obesity; Harvey J. Sugerman and Ninh Nguyen, Editors
Clinical Exercise Physiology; Jonathan K. Ehrman, Paul M. Gordon, Paul S. Visich and Steven J. Keteyian, Editors
American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Position Stand on Physical Activity and Weight Loss Now Available