Fat does not cut it

Obesity leads to exhaustion, slowing down of movements, aches and pains, low energy and a host of other health problems, some of which could turn serious. It is scary therefore that obesity affects close to one-third of all adults and children today. In some countries it has taken on the garb of an epidemic.

Obesity creates a vicious cycle of worsening weakness, gains in body weight and risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other ailments. In India too, we are catching up.

In majority of the cases of obesity, the condition occurs when the amount of calories consumed exceeds the amount of calories expended over a long period of time.

Excess calories are stored as fat in the body, and with long-term caloric excess, an individual eventually becomes obese. A limited number of cases are due primarily to genetics, medical reasons, or psychiatric illness.

Physical activity burns calories

Be active : The more you exercise and are active, the easier it is to keep your weight under control. But exercise is not a free pass to eat everything in sight! A person weighing 50 kg will have to walk two kilometers to burn 100 calories. (One scoop of ice-cream or one gulab jamoon is 100 calories). So do not overestimate the amount of calories you’re burning.

Eat sensibly: Adopt a sensible diet plan. Be aware of your adequate calorie requirement for every day (and let me tell you this loudly and clearly), this is just the beginning steps in weight loss. Work on portion control and not let the calorie intake exceed more than the requirement.

Also, net calorie expenditure each day should be greater than the net calorie consumption of the same day. The diet-and-exercise approach is simple and easy to achieve.

This is not a boot-camp approach where one has to go through a strenuous exercise routine. Even those with some pain from osteoarthritis or diabetes can still easily follow a program. Exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet is the only organic way in which to combat obesity.


Stick to lower impact aerobic activities until you achieve your ideal weight.

Obese people should be especially careful about heat exhaustion given that they are less able to adapt to temperature changes. Wearing light clothing will allow for better heat exchange while exercising.

Hydration is very important for the obese, since they are susceptible to dehydration. Be sure to drink fluids frequently before, during, and after exercise.

Slow down or stop if you experience chest pains, shortness of breath, palpitations, nausea, pain in the neck or jaw, or major muscle or joint pain.

Starting an Exercise Programme

In the beginning, frequency and duration of the activity is more important than the intensity.

Here intensity indicates doing the exercise from a slower pace to a faster pace i.e, from walking to jogging.

For an obese person, the focus of the exercise programme should be based on low-intensity aerobic activity, with progressively increasing duration. It is important to ensure the impact is low to avoid stress on the joints. The options of aerobic exercises are brisk walking, cycling and swimming.

Exercise at least five to six days a week for 30 to 60 minutes. If you were previously sedentary, these sessions can be broken up into three 10-15 minute sessions, with gradual increases in duration.

Work at a comfortable pace that allows you to talk without too much difficulty or breathlessness. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of the exercises, while understanding that you will have to build up to longer and more challenging workouts in the near future with the guidance of a fitness professional.

If you are obese, cycling and swimming is a good option to lose calories faster and bring your weight down as these do not impact the knees and joints too much.

Jogging, on the other hand, could cause stress on the knees and joints.

Weight training is also important for weight reduction. It makes you stronger and raises your basal metabolic rate which increases the amount of calories you burn at rest.

Try to resist focussing only on weight loss. The body has a tendency to gain muscle or lean weight also, so although your body is benefiting from the exercise, the pounds might not drop off initially. Focus on the quality and quantity of the exercise instead.

Ease into your workout. Start gradually for the first five minutes to give your body time to adjust to the activity.

Focus on increasing the duration of an exercise session and more frequent sessions in the first few weeks, then progressively increase the intensity of the workout.

Towards the end of the session, slow down for the last five minutes to allow the body to ease back into its resting state.

Integrate non- exercise physical activity into daily routine

Take the stairs

Park farther from the door

Take a short walk at lunch

Turn off the TV manually

Take walk breaks from work

Play with the kids

Do gardening

Importantly, try not to sit down much during the day

People don’t just have time to exercise…they MAKE time to exercise. Be in control of your life. Make exercise a part of your day like bathing and brushing your tooth every day

Bhaskar is a fitness professional. You can read more on fitness on his website

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 3:24:11 AM |

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