How Many Minutes Of Exercise Should an Overweight, Morbidly Obese, Obese or Plus-sized Person Do
We all know that exercise is really good for us and we should do something if we aren’t already active. But exactly, how many minutes of exercise should an obese person do?
The most common reason given for not exercising is lack of enough time. Depending on your goal it may be much less than you think.
The amount of time you should exercise depends on your fitness goals, whether it's for weight loss, health maintenance or performance training.
For many of us, exercise simply isn't part of our daily lives, and for people who are significantly overweight this can be compounded by the fact that conventional advice about exercise sometimes just isn't possible to follow
The good news is you probably need to move less than you think to reap the health benefits of exercise. Most organizations recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. For different health concerns, this may be more or less time depending on your goals.
For example to increase your longevity is approximately 150 minutes per week according to a study published in The Lancet . The research also showed that everyday activities ― like cleaning your room and walking more at work ― are just as beneficial as structured workouts when it comes to meeting that goal.
This is similar to the World Health Organization’s recommendations, which is for people to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week to improve fitness and decrease mortality risk.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommend Americans get 60 minutes of physical aerobic activity daily for children ages 6-17 (there are no specifications for those five and under), and 30 minutes daily for adults ages 18-64.
How Much Exercise Do You Need to Prevent Weight Gain?
While there aren't official guidelines for preventing weight gain, the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) position on the subject suggests moderate-intensity workouts between 150-250 minutes (20-35 minutes daily) or about 1200 to 2000 kcal a week may help you maintain your weight.
How Much Exercise Do You Need to Lose Weight?
For this goal, the ACSM recommends 200-300 minutes each week of moderate-intensity exercise.
How Much Exercise Do You Need for General Health and Wellbeing?
For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends these exercise guidelines:
Aerobic activity. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week.
Strength training.Do strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. Aim to do a single set of each exercise, using a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions.
Detailed Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
The Department of Health and Human Services issued the federal government's first-ever Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans in 2008 to help Americans understand the types and amounts of physical activity that offer important health benefits. Physical activity is any form of exercise or movement of the body that uses energy. Some of your daily life activities—doing active chores around the house, yard work, walking the dog—are examples.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend 60 minutes of physical aerobic activity daily for children ages 6-17 (there are no specifications for those five and under), and 30 minutes daily for adults ages 18-64.
Children and Adolescents (6-17 years old)
Children and adolescents should get 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily. Most of the 60 or more minutes a day should be either moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least three days a week. As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include muscle- and bone-strengthening physical activity at least three days of the week.
Adults (18-64 years old)
Adults should get at least two and a half hours (150 minutes) each week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity. You need to do this type of activity for at least 10 minutes at a time as intervals shorter than this do not have the same health benefits. Adults should also do strengthening activities, like push-ups, sit-ups and lifting weights, at least two days a week.
Aerobic activities require moderate physical effort and include, but are not limited to: biking slowly, canoeing, ballroom dancing, general gardening, using your manual wheelchair, arm cycling, walking briskly, and water aerobics. Examples of vigorous activities are basketball, jumping rope, running or bicycling on hills, soccer, swimming laps, and martial arts.
Not sure whether you are at a moderate or vigorous activity level? Try the talk test. If you can talk while you are active, then you are participating at a moderate level. If you can only say a few words without stopping to catch your breath, then you are engaging in vigorous activity.
What is Moderate Aerobic Exercise?
Moderate aerobic exercise includes activities such as brisk walking, swimming and mowing the lawn.
Moderate-intensity physical activity: Aerobic activity that increases a person’s heart rate and breathing to some extent. On a scale relative to a person’s capacity, moderate-intensity activity is usually a 5 or 6 on a 0 to 10 scale. Brisk walking, dancing, swimming, or bicycling on a level terrain are examples.
What is Vigorous Aerobic Exercise?
Vigorous aerobic exercise includes activities such as running and aerobic dancing.
Vigorous-intensity physical activity: Aerobic activity that greatly increases a person’s heart rate and breathing. On a scale relative to a person’s capacity, vigorous-intensity activity is usually a 7 or 8 on a 0 to 10 scale. Jogging, singles tennis, swimming continuous laps, or bicycling uphill are examples.
Strengthening activities work all the major muscle groups - legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms. These activities include, but are not limited to: lifting weights, push-ups, sit-ups, and working with resistance bands. Don't have weights? Common household items such as bottled water and soup cans can also be used.
What is Strength Training?
Strength training can include the use of weight machines, your own body weight, resistance tubing, resistance paddles in the water, or activities such as rock climbing.
Muscle-strengthening activity: Physical activity, including exercise that increases skeletal muscle strength, power, endurance, and mass. It includes strength training, resistance training, and muscular strength and endurance exercises.
Bone-strengthening activities produce a force on the bones that promotes bone growth and strength. This force is commonly produced by impact with the ground. The good news: bone-strengthening activities can also be aerobic and muscle-strengthening like running, jumping rope, basketball, tennis, and hopscotch.
Putting it all together into a plan you can follow for weight loss, general health, and performance improvement.
Guidelines for Your Health
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, published by the Department of Health recommend:
Do moderately intense cardio 30 minutes a day, five days a week
Do vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week
Do 8 to 10 strength-training exercises, 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise twice a week.
American College of Sports Medicine Guidelines
To get the full list of recommendations, check out the summary from ACSM below:
- Cardiorespiratory Exercise
Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
Exercise recommendations can be met through 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (five days per week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (three days per week).
One continuous session and multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes) are both acceptable to accumulate the desired amount of daily exercise.
Gradual progression of exercise time, frequency and intensity is recommended for best adherence and least injury risk.
People unable to meet these minimums can still benefit from some activity.
- Resistance Exercise
Adults should train each major muscle group two or three days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment.
Very light or light intensity is best for older persons or previously sedentary adults starting exercise.
Two to four sets of each exercise will help adults improve strength and power.
For each exercise, 8-12 repetitions improve strength and power, 10-15 repetitions improve strength in middle-age and older persons starting exercise, and 15-20 repetitions improve muscular endurance.
Adults should wait at least 48 hours between resistance training sessions.
- Flexibility Exercise
Adults should do flexibility exercises at least two or three days each week to improve range of motion.
Each stretch should be held for 10-30 seconds to the point of tightness or slight discomfort.
Repeat each stretch two to four times, accumulating 60 seconds per stretch.
Static, dynamic, ballistic and PNF stretches are all effective.
Flexibility exercise is most effective when the muscle is warm. Try light aerobic activity or a hot bath to warm the muscles before stretching.
- Neuromotor Exercise
Neuromotor exercise (sometimes called “functional fitness training”) is recommended for two or three days per week.
Exercises should involve motor skills (balance, agility, coordination and gait), proprioceptive exercise training and multifaceted activities (tai chi and yoga) to improve physical function and prevent falls in older adults.
20-30 minutes per day is appropriate for neuromotor exercise.
Is it possible to kill two birds with one stone on meeting these activity goals? For example, can you get flexibility time while also meeting aerobic or strength goals?
The exciting and time-saving fact is yes you can often achieve multiple fitness goals in a single training session. A full body circuit training full body strength training program with the properly selected exercises will allow meeting your strength, flexibility, functional and aerobic fitness needs
Sample Programs To Get You Started
The following examples show how you can schedule your workouts to meet the guidelines:
From Zero to 60 program
This workout schedule is a good choice if you're a beginner or its been a while since you have consistently exercised and would like to work up to the recommended volume.
Monday: 20 min cardio
Tuesday: Full Body Strength link to article total body strength for obese beginners at home and gym
Wednesday: 20 min cardio
Friday: 20 min cardio
Saturday: Full Body Strength
2. Pick and Chose
This involves more workouts and more intensity:
Monday: 30 min elliptical, bike, or treadmill medium pace
Tuesday: 20 min interval training (alternate walking and jogging)
Wednesday: Full Body Strength Training
Thursday: 20 min intervals (alternate walking and jogging)
Friday: Full Body Strength Training
Saturday: Three 10-minute walks at a brisk pace
Guidelines to Prevent Weight Gain
While there aren't official guidelines for preventing weight gain, the ACSM position stand on the subject suggests moderate-intensity workouts between 150-250 minutes (20-35 minutes daily) or about 1200 to 2000 kcal a week may help you maintain your weight.
To see what this looks like in real life, check out the sample schedule below, which predicts calories burned for a 150-lb person and 300-lb person.
Weight Gain Prevention Series
This exercise program includes a variety of cardio activities, all done at a moderate pace along with a strength workout and a yoga workout, for a complete and balanced program:
Monday: Elliptical Trainer, 40 min at a moderate pace, 327 calories, 300 lb person will burn 654 calories 10-minute stretching( link to stretching article for obese), 40 calories 300 lb person will burn 80 calories
Tuesday: Basic Full Body Strength, 30 min, 100 calories 300 lb person will burn 200 calories
Wednesday: Walking, 45 min at 4.5 mph, 322 calories, 300 lb person will burn 644 calories walking and 80 calories stretching ,10-minute stretching, 40 calories
Thursday: Basic Full Body Strength, 30 min, 100 calories 300 lb person will burn 200 calories
Friday: Swimming laps, 20 min, 137 calories 300 lb person will burn 274 calories
Saturday: Yoga/Pilates class, 60 min, 170 calories 300 lb person will burn 340 calories
Total Time: 245 Minutes
Estimated Calories Burned: 1236 150 lb person 300 lb person will burn 2442
Guidelines to Lose Weight
Now we get to the amount of exercise you need to lose weight. You can see that it takes quite a bit of exercise just to prevent weight gain, and it takes, even more, to actually lose weight.
For this goal, the ACSM recommends 200-300 minutes each week of moderate-intensity exercise. Keep in mind, though, that working harder for some workouts will give you a bigger return on your effort. To see it in action, the sample routine below shows how a 150-lb exerciser and a 300-lb exerciser fits in 300 minutes of exercise into a week:
Weight Loss Series
Monday: 30 min High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) - Alternate 1 minute running (10 mph or as fast as you can) with 2 minutes of walking (4.5 mph) for 30 min, calories 320, a 300-lb person burns 640 calories. Basic Total Body, 30 min, 100 calories 300 lb person burns 200 calories
Tuesday: 60 min cardio kickboxing, 550 calories, 300 lb person burns 1100 calories
Wednesday: 30-45 min Lower Body Strength, 300 calories, a 300-lb person will burn 600 calories than 84 with stretching 15-minute stretching, 42 calories
Thursday: 60 min yoga class, 170 calories 300-lb person burns 340 calories
Friday: 45 min HIIT - Alternate 1 minute 10 mph with 2 minutes at 4.5 mph for 45 minutes, calories 480 300-lb person burns 960 calories
Saturday: 30 min Upper Body Strength Training 150 calories 300 lb person burns 300 calories
Total Time: 315 Minutes
Estimated Calories Burned: 2112 300-lb person burns 4224 calories
Making Sense of It All
We don't all have to become gym rats or triathletes. we focus too much on weight loss and not enough on simply living a healthy lifestyle: eating a sensible diet and being physically active.
If you're a beginner trying to lose weight, you may be put off by the amount of exercise you have to do. The good news is, you don't have to start at a high level. In fact, a great way to approach it is to start with a focus on improving your health.
The organizations discussed earlier offer workouts perfect for beginners and allow you to build a strong foundation of strength before you move up to the more strenuous routines required for maintaining and losing weight. Start with what you can handle and use the guidelines as just that guides.
One last thing. I know that getting started with exercise can be intimidating, especially if you’re starting out. It’s why we created our own experience for our community.
If you are in a location where there aren’t any great trainers, you don’t have access to a gym, or you’re just not ready to work with somebody in person, consider checking out my popular 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program.
We build a workout program specific to YOUR goals, we help you make better food choices (which is 90% of the battle), and we help keep you accountable.
No guesswork. No confusion about what to do next. Just a coach you can text with questions, that builds a program for you, and can even check your form via video!
Schedule a free call to learn more by clicking on the image below:
If you have questions about what you need to look for when it comes to training with a coach in person or even questions about working with an online trainer, email me or reach out to me on social media.
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