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About Exercise For Any Size

If you are a very large person, you can still be physically active.
Very large people face special challenges in trying to be active. You may not be able to bend or move in the same way that other people can. It may be hard to find clothes and equipment for exercising. You may feel self-conscious being physically active around other people.

Facing these challenges is hard–but it can be done!
The information in this booklet may help you start being more active and healthier–no matter what your size!

Why should I be active?

Being physically active may help you live longer and protect you from:

* diabetes

* heart disease and stroke

* high blood pressure

* osteoporosis (a disease leading to weak bones that may break easily)

If you have any of these health problems, being physically active may help control or improve your symptoms.

Regular physical activity helps you feel better because it:

* lowers your stress and boosts your mood

* increases your strength

* helps control blood pressure and blood sugar

* helps build healthy bones, muscles, and joints

* helps your heart and lungs work better

* improves your self-esteem.

Being physically active can be big fun!

How do I get started?

To start being more active and keep at it:

* Start slowly. Your body needs time to get used to your new activity.

* Warm up. Warm-ups get your body ready for action. Shrug your shoulders, tap your toes, swing your arms, or march in place. You should spend a few minutes warming up for any physical activity–even walking. Walk more slowly for the first few minutes.

* Cool down. Slow down little by little. If you have been walking fast, walk slowly or stretch for a few minutes to cool down. Cooling down may protect your heart, relax your muscles, and keep you from getting hurt.

* Set goals. Set short-term and long-term goals. A short-term goal may be to walk 5 minutes on at least 3 days for 1 week. It may not seem like a lot, but any activity is better than none. A long-term goal may be to walk 30 minutes on most days of the week by the end of 6 months.

* Get support. Get a family member or friend to be physically active with you. It may be more fun, and your buddy can cheer you on.

* Track progress. Keep a journal of your physical activity. You may not feel like you are making progress but when you look back at where you started, you may be pleasantly surprised!

o Have fun! Try different activities to find the ones you really enjoy..

What physical activities can a very large person do?

Most very large people can do some or all of the physical activities in this article. You do not need special skills or a lot of equipment.

You can do:
* Weight-bearing activities, like walking and golfing, which involve lifting or pushing your own body weight.

* Non-weight-bearing activities, like swimming and water workouts, which put less stress on your joints because you do not have to lift or push your own weight. If your feet or joints hurt when you stand, non-weight-bearing activities may be best for you.

* Lifestyle activities, like gardening, which do not have to be planned.

Physical activity does not have to be hard or boring to be good for you. Anything that gets you moving around–even for only a few minutes a day–is a healthy start to getting more fit.

Chances are your health care provider will be pleased with your decision to start an activity program. It is unlikely that you will need a complete medical exam before you go out for a short walk!

Gentle physical activity is healthy.

You do not have to push yourself to benefit from physical activity. Thirty minutes of gentle physical activity (like walking) can be just as healthy as 15 minutes of intense physical activity (like fast dancing).

Walking (weightbearing)

The walking that you do during the day (like doing chores around the house or in the yard) can help you be more fit. But regular, steady walking that makes you breathe heavier can help you to be healthier. It will give your heart and lungs–as well as your leg muscles–a good workout.

If you are not active now, start slowly. Try to walk 5 minutes a day for the first week. Walk 8 minutes the next week. Stay at 8-minute walks until you feel comfortable. Then increase your walks to 11 minutes. Slowly lengthen each walk by 3 minutes–or walk faster.

Tips for walking:
* Wear comfortable walking shoes with a lot of support. If you walk often, you may need to buy new shoes every 6 to 8 months.

* Wear garments that prevent inner thigh chafing, such as tights or spandex shorts.

* Make walking fun. Walk with a friend or pet. Walk in places you enjoy, like a park or shopping mall.

Dancing (weight-bearing or non-weight-bearing)

Dancing may help:

* tone your muscles

* improve your flexibility

* make your heart stronger

* make your lungs work better.

You can dance in a health club, in a nightclub, or at home. To dance at home, just move your body to some lively music!

Dancing on your feet is a weight-bearing activity. Dancing while seated lets you move your arms and legs to music while taking the weight off your feet. This may be a good choice if you can’t stand on your feet very long.

Water Workouts (non-weight-bearing)