Training overweight squash player

Published on April 18th, 2013 | by Joe Starks

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The Many Faces of Fitness: For Overweight People

When you carry only a few extra pounds, getting fitter is a much easier job than when you have a hundred pounds to lose. Nonetheless all overweight people should strive to get their weight within the normal limits. Many devastating diseases and syndromes have been linked to excess weight and people of normal BMI (Body Mass Index) seem to live longer on average according to recent studies.

The biggest differences between slightly overweight and obese people when it comes to getting fitter are the difficulty of the exercises performed and the amount of calories that have to be subtracted from the usual daily amount ingested.

Anyone who has a weight problem, be it over- or underweight, has to both tackle diet and exercise at the same time.

The Diet

The main way to lose weight is to eat less than you usually do. Human bodies need a standard amount of calories to preserve each pound, which can vary slightly according to one’s metabolic rate. People who are still growing need a lot more energy than adults. The elderly need fewer calories than younger adults. Tall people need more calories than short people. The differences usually come up to only 200-500 calories though. So feeding a teenager a huge hamburger meal with fries and soda is an excess he/she does not need.

It is important to note that men need more calories than women even if they are of same height, age and weight. This is because men have more muscle than women of the same height, weight and age in general.

There are scientific formulas out there, easily accessible through the net, which can calculate according to your gender, age, height and activity levels how many calories you need to consume every day to be at a normal weight and to lose weight if you aren’t.

Once you have the amount of calories set you should strive to improve the quality of the sources your calories come from. A 500 calorie candy bar might be the same with a 500 calorie bowl of vegetable cream stew, but the other benefits of those food items differ a lot. You need more than calories from your food. You have to watch that you get enough proteins, vitamins and minerals also. To keep a healthy bowel you also need to consider your fiber intake.

Adopting a diet with lower calories will make you lose the weight, but adopting a diet with lower calories AND better food quality will also improve your health.

The Exercises

When a heavy person exercises simple movements might be very painful and stressful. If you carry a lot of excess weight there might be joint pains and nausea involved every time you try to raise your heart rate or you do something taxing in general. This is why very heavy people should start with exercises that offer them some relief from their body weight while they work out. Water sports like water aerobics, synchronized swimming and simple swimming will relieve your joints from your weight and exercise you with higher resistance than if you did it outside of the water. Cycling and walking can be good choices also if you can do them at a moderate intensity without feeling pain.

One of the things heavy people can use to their advantage when exercising is their own weight. Simple exercises like push-ups, burpies, crunches etc get far more rewarding when your muscles have to lift more weight.

People that are only slightly overweight should be able to start almost any common sport. To raise your metabolic rate you should aim for exercises that make you gain muscle, while to use energy for fat you should do at least 20 minutes of cardio thrice a week. Combinations of both are mixed aerobic-anaerobic exercises, like tennis, or changing from moderate to high intensity in any type of workout. For instance when you run at moderate intensity but do some short full out sprints in between you are doing a combined exercise of aerobic and anaerobic metabolism.

A combination of gaining muscle to be able to eat more when you are thinner and to burn fat while you are overweight is ideal. This is why an overweight person’s training should be diverse, focusing both on muscle growth and energy burning.

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