Strength Performance Network

How to Start Exercise When You Are Overweight

It can be really difficult to find motivation and actually start exercising, not just talking about it, and this stands for anyone who doesn’t live a physically active lifestyle. But for people who are overweight, it’s even tougher to get started, as exercise it not just pleasant but painful as well. But there’s a way around each and every obstacle, and believe it or not, you can start even right after finishing up this article. With the right mindset, you’ll reach your goals and feel proud of yourself.


Before you even begin, it’s the most important to check your approach. Accept yourself, love yourself and you will want to do more for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over being overweight or feel guilt, because guilt has never helped anyone strive to improve. Who are you doing this for? Nobody but yourself. You want to feel better and be healthy, more than anything else, and exercise is just a skill that you can gradually improve in order to get there. Always remember this.

Fitness, not weight

Again, regarding your mindset – don’t focus on sizes, scales, mirrors and measuring tapes. These are short-term motivators, and rather unjust ones, so that whenever you come across a stumble, you’ll feel terrible and like none of your efforts are producing results. Just focus on moving and getting those endorphins from being active, and very slowly things will come in line. You’re looking for health and fitness, which can actually come in various shapes and sizes. Don’t even measure yourself, don’t think about how your body looks, but rather what it can do.

A comfortable environment

You can try out a bunch of different ones until you find a gym or rec center that you feel comfortable at. This is important in order to make exercise a habit for you. You’ll probably be more comfortable at a place that’s more laid back or a gym class where you get lots of support. You can even commit to start with light exercises at home, just to get in the vibe, but it is recommendable to not be doing this completely on your own so that you ensure you’re doing exercises properly.

Personal trainer

If you can, set more money aside and hire a personal trainer to help you get started. If you’re on a budget, you can consider bringing a couple of friends for a group session with a PA. The most important thing is to take your time and find someone who is compassionate and understanding of the obstacles you’re facing. There are even a lot of personal trainers who used to be overweight, which can be a huge motivating factor. A lot of fitness trainers approach workouts as “punishment for your own good, so stop being lazy”. That’s definitely not the right approach to living a healthier lifestyle, so find a trainer who will modify workouts for you and encourages you to enjoy physical activity.

No one is watching

Wherever you may go to exercise, huff and puff away and let your face get tomato-red. Nobody cares. You’re not going to quit fitness because it doesn’t look pretty, are you? Don’ be embarrassed, just suck it up and once you start exercising, you’ll find that the others are actually not watching you and not caring at all – everyone is there in order to focus on themselves. Even if you do run across some smirks, don’t let ignorance get you down, f* ‘em.

Activities you enjoy

Physical activity is not a form of self-punishment. Repeat that one more time and let it sink in. Exercise is a way to spend your time productively and if you find something you like doing, you’re going to stick with it. So scan the Internet a bit to get some ideas. Are you worried starting to exercise might be painful for your knees and joints? Look for adjustable road bikes for sale or aquarobic classes in your area, because bike riding and water exercises are an easy and painless way to start. Look for activities that look enjoyable and will easily become a part of your lifestyle.

Focus on what you can do

Start small. If you’re able to walk only for 10 minutes currently, own those 10 minutes! Next week, it may be 12 minutes, and so on. We’re all beginners at some point, for everything in life. Don’t get overwhelmed by “all the things a fit person should be able to do” – you’ll get there one day too, just set small goals for yourself. Once you get in the habit of moving regularly, it’s recommendable to increase your exercise efforts by 10% weekly. Don’t overdo it from the start or you’ll get disappointed easily – it’s much more rewarding and sustainable to increase goals gradually.

Limitations can be overcome

Exercising carries certain discomforts for overweight people, but luckily, this can be avoided. For example, you can avoid chafing by wearing bicycle shorts, double sports bras for women or putting adhesive bandages on the nipples, friction-reducing lubricant and shirts with tighter sleeves so you don’t run into problems in the underarm area. These are all normal, regular issues (actually, even for people who are not overweight) so don’t be upset about them, but find solutions. Avoid what makes you uncomfortable as you slowly but surely find the best ways to exercise and feel good.

Today is the day to start. Appreciate yourself and your efforts. Your decision to incorporate fitness into your lifestyle is an enormous and commendable one. So give yourself a pat on the back, tell yourself You can do it (because, believe me, you most certainly can, no matter how hard it seems), and don’t look back. Slowly but surely, physical activity will become a part of your life that you’ll love so much. And in return, your body will give thanks.

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Comment by Gabriella Diesendorf on May 2, 2018 at 11:36pm

Really loved the article and the ideas you presented.  I am considering a personal fitness trainer since I lack the motivation on the daily basis to go and get things done and I think this would be the best option to get serious about weight loss. 

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