Obese Accessibility: Too Big To Exercise?

We are currently living in a confusing time.

This is an era epitomised by the competing concepts of fat shaming and politically correct grand standing.

The ‘haves and the have-nots’ are no longer divided by the amount of money in their pocket, but by their appearance – ‘the hots and not-hots’.

Everyone has the right to look and feel however they want – but we’re also told on a daily basis, by social media, television and film, that there is only one way to be and that is healthy and in shape.

These are hardly the worst things to aspire to be, but they can seem unattainable, especially if you’re an obese person who’s barely through their twenties and doesn’t have a clue about how to live a healthy lifestyle.

It’s easy enough for average sized people to talk of overweight folks ‘only having themselves to blame’, but the painful reality is that the larger you get the less likely it is that you are going to change your ways and the more likely it is that you’re going to slip into even worse habits. In order to regain control over one’s body, one doesn’t simply have to stop eating and jump on a treadmill. There’s a far greater psychological game at stake here and it’s not easy to win.

From an outside perspective, it may seem like the task of losing weight and getting fit is a relatively straightforward one. After all everyone knows that in order to shed pounds, one has to burn more calories than they consume. Simple enough, right?

It would be simple if the person involved had a clear understanding of how many calories they should eat in one day. And it would be easy if that same person understood how much exercise it would take for them to burn the necessary amount of calories required to lose weight. But, unfortunately, it’s often the case that those people don’t have the necessary education and are therefore stuck without a clue – essentially helpless.

So how do you overcome years of lackadaisical behaviour, poor fitness and a habitually damaging diet?

As a person that is currently going through the process of shedding pounds (as well as my fair share of bad habits), I’d like to outline some of the key areas that makes losing weight and approaching the world of exercise a real challenge:

Finding suitable exercise clothes is difficult

I’m not going to make the bold and untrue claim that sportswear manufacturers don’t stock sporting clothes for larger people, but I will say that it can be a real mission to find suitable running gear if you’re a plus-sized person. Take a second to think about it. If you’re just starting out in the exercise game then you’ll likely need to invest in a full set of equipment – that means finding extra large breathable shirts, jogging bottoms and even shoes that can accommodate for the extra amount of weight being put on them.

Luckily, there is a way around this problem. If you’re serious about investing in your fitness then you can cut out the middle man and buy in bulk from a wholesale sportswear supplier. These wholesalers don’t just sell to businesses, you can often pick up quality end-of-run, plus size clothes for a real bargain – something to consider before you have to trawl through the high street.

Exercising in public is like volunteering for a walk of shame

It takes a serious amount of confidence to go out and exercise in public, especially when you’re self-conscious about your appearance. There’s a reason why most of the joggers that you see running in the streets are in shape – they’re confident enough to do it. You see obese people doing this much less, purely because it’s embarrassing to put yourself on show, especially when you’re attempting to perform a task that you’re so evidently not fit for.

There’s a couple of ways around this issue. You can avoid public places altogether when you’re exercising, only going to the gym at night and jogging at off-peak times. Or you can do the brave thing and just get out there. The more you exercise in the public, the less you will mind the stares and the more you will take pride in yourself.

The wrong kind of exercise can hurt you

Consider the impact of a runner’s foot on the ground. Each time her foot hits the ground she is putting her entire weight on a small surface area. The shock of this impact is partly taken by the ground, but the majority of it will run through her foot, ankle, knee then hip. Average sized people run the risk of injury beginning a training regimen, regardless of the quality of their running equipment. When overweight people start exercising, these risks are even more pronounced.

Generally speaking, it’s best to stick to ‘low-impact‘ activities, such as cross-training and walking. Start out with small daily sessions of 10 minutes then increase the time each week by a few minutes. Getting fit is a game of patience, you won’t feel the effects immediately, but if you persevere you will be rewarded. Build up your mobility and stamina slowly – the important thing to do is stay consistent and safe.

If you’re overweight and considering starting running or any other kind of exercise, it’s always best to talk to your GP to get a checkup and see what you’re capable of doing.