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Obesity and Exercise

What is obesity? Obesity can be defined as the ‘excessive storage of body fat, to the point where it is seriously impairing a person’s health’. An obese person is anyone who is overweight and has a BMI (Body Mass Index) of greater than 30. To check your BMI now click here.

Category BMI (kg/m²)

Underweight <18.5
Normal 18.5 - 24.9
Overweight 25 - 29.9
Obesity (Class 1) 30 - 34.9
Obesity (Class 2) 35 - 39.9
Morbid Obesity > 40

The World Health Organisation now recognizes obesity as a disease in its own right, one that is mainly caused through poor lifestyle. Changes in lifestyle, simply by improving diet and increasing daily activity levels through structured exercise could have a significant effect upon reducing the current epidemic.

Obesity and Exercise: This article will cover the basic information required for an obese person to get started with an exercise program and identify the actions they need to take before getting underway. But first let’s take a look at some pretty scary statistics.

The National Health Survey England carried out between 1994 and 2003 revealed shocking increases in obesity for males and females in the UK.

  • 9.5% increase of obesity in males between 1994 & 2003
  • 6.1% increase of obesity in females between 1994 & 2003

If this trend continues then by 2010 over a third of all adults in the UK will be classed as obese, putting a huge strain on the already struggling NHS. In fact obesity is rising faster in the UK than in any other European community.

Statistics also suggest that obesity increases with age. This is due to the fact that muscle mass depletes with age, causing metabolism to further slow down which has the knock on affect of an increase in body fat, hence a further reduction in activity. A vicious circle that is hard to get out of.

We are not only seeing a rise in adult obesity, but also a rise in child obesity. As a nation we need to act now to prevent them turning into obese adults. The number of overweight and obese teenagers in the UK has trebled in the last 2 decades, with nearly one in five 15 year olds now classed as obese. As a result these teenagers are now at risk from a number of serious health issues normally only associated with adults. Being overweight or obese as a teenager can also create a number of psychological issues. For example, poor self-esteem low confidence and depression.

Obesity is linked to a number of serious lifestyle related diseases;

  • Premature death
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Increase risk of certain cancers
  • Asthma
  • Gallstones
  • Heart Disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Fatty liver disorder
  • Orthopedic problems
  • Strokes
  • Respiratory problems
  • Gout

What do we need to do?

The only real way to beat obesity is a complete attitude change towards lifestyle that includes increases in activity, changes to diet and social habits such as smoking and alcohol. Very few people are actually overweight or obese due to an underlying medical condition. The majority of cases are down to inactivity and poor diet. It’s quite possible that poor habits could have been passed down through family generations. They may have become gradually worse due to the increasing popularity of junk food and labour saving devices which encourages us to eat poorly and become more sedentary.

Physical activity is possibly one of the most important factors to maintaining weight loss and has to be in the front line towards tackling the obesity epidemic. Activity accounts for 40% of your daily calorie needs. Low activity with a high calorie intake equals an increase in excess body weight due to fat storage.

If obesity is affecting you, then you have to make preparations and take precautions before diving head first into an exercise program.

It’s advisable to make small changes to diet and increase activity levels gradually. A well designed and structured exercise program that include the 3 main elements of, Aerobic Training, Resistance Training and Flexibility. This will create a balanced program covering all required core areas to improve overall physical fitness.

Here are a few things you can do to get started right away;

  • Cut out refined carbohydrates and processed foods (anything that comes in a packet)
  • Replace them with unrefined carbohydrates such as whole meal bread, brown rice
  • Reduce alcohol to recommended daily limits
  • Quit smoking
  • Eat lean meats, fish, fresh fruit and vegetables and whole foods
  • Control your portion sizes
  • Eat little and often, but make sure it’s the right kinds of foods
  • Increase your daily activity. Start going for a short walk. Walk a little further everyday.

Exercise is the real key to beating obesity. Exercise has so many positive points, but it’s vital you get proper instruction and advice to obtain the full benefit and to prevent injury.

Action plan:

  1. Visit your GP and get a thorough examination. Ask your GP to write a letter of consent, so that you can take it to your local gym or Personal Trainer.
  2. Once you get the go ahead from your GP to begin exercise seek the services of a good Personal Trainer either through your local gym or privately. If you are not sure about where to find one visit the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPS) website to find one in your area. I would suggest selecting an instructor who has appropriate experience and qualifications in Weight management.
  3. Once you have found a Personal Trainer, book yourself a consultation and get started.

Getting proper advice and guidance from a qualified professional is the best thing that you will ever do. If you are serious about beating obesity, then this is a must. A Personal Trainer will advise you how to make the appropriate changes to your diet and lifestyle. They will design an exercise programme specifically for you and your particular circumstances so that you can fit it in and around your current lifestyle. They will also provide you with the necessary support, guidance and motivation that you need to succeed.

Related articles: The Benefits of Physical Activity

 

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