No matter who you are, how much you weigh or what medical conditions you have, you can always find exercises to safely improve your physical health. To help you be the healthiest version of yourself, we’ve compiled some of the best exercises to try when you’re new to working out and want to start working out to lose weight.
Overall Benefits of Exercising
It’s no secret that exercise aids every aspect of your health, providing immediate and long-term benefits. As such, working out is a staple of any healthy lifestyle. Here are some of the ways exercise can benefit your immediate and long-term health:
Helps with weight management: The two most significant factors in weight management within your control are diet and exercise. One part of healthy weight loss is burning more calories than you consume. Research shows that exercise is essential to maintaining a healthy weight, especially when you combine aerobic exercise with resistance training.
Reduces health risks: Along with a healthy weight, exercise reduces your risk of myriad chronic diseases and all-cause mortality — death from any cause. Some diseases you can help avoid through exercise include cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and several cancers.
Strengthens bones and muscles: While it’s common knowledge that exercise strengthens your muscles, research also shows that exercise strengthens bones by increasing bone density. This benefit is increasingly important to consider as you age because our bones tend to become weaker over time.
Improves mood and energy levels: Have you ever experienced a post-workout high? This euphoria mainly occurs due to an increased release of endorphins after you exercise, leaving you feeling rejuvenated. If you’re feeling sluggish, one way to lift your mood is to exercise. Further, regular exercise reduces your risk of depression in the long term.
Enhances sleep quality: When you workout often, you’ll likely notice that you sleep better. Rather than toss and turn all night or wake up early, you can get a solid night of rest and wake up feeling refreshed.
Improves brain health: Participating in regular exercise can delay the effects of aging on brain health by improving cognitive processes.
Workouts for Beginners With Extra Weight
If you’re a newcomer to the world of fitness, it’s important to take your fitness journey slowly. Otherwise, you can increase your risk of an exercise-related injury. Additionally, you may find yourself frustrated when you don’t progress as quickly as you envisioned.
By taking each workout session slowly, you can build up your skills and gradually see changes in your body. Here are a few workout ideas to introduce you to a workout routine that works for you:
Water exercises are excellent for individuals who experience limited mobility, painful joints or have injury concerns.
The buoyancy of water reduces your body weight and absorbs shock away from your joints. At the same time, the friction between your body and the waves creates resistance. In this way, water aerobics engage your muscles more fully, burn more calories and reduce joint impact. Exercising in the water also improves balance and provides greater comfort.
There are several exercises you can perform in the water. Some examples include:
Aqua jogging: Also called deep water running, aqua jogging mimics running motions while underwater. Unlike regular jogging, you don’t touch the ground with aqua jogging. To perform aqua jogging, you wear a buoyancy belt that keeps your head above water and allows you to run in place while floating. A typical aqua jogging session lasts 30 to 45 minutes, including a five to 10-minute warm-up and several rounds of jogging at low and high intensity.
Side leg lifts: Using a noodle, a side leg lift tones your inner thighs and engages your core muscles. To perform a side leg lift, tie a pool noodle into a knot and place one foot through it. Keeping that leg straight, slide into the pool until your feet are on the pool floor. Standing tall, lift the leg with the pool noodle to the side at a 45- to 60-degree angle. Bring the leg back down with your core engaged and repeat 10 to 12 times.
Arm curls or lifts: To perform this exercise, stand in the middle of the pool with a pair of water weights, hold your arms in front of you and curl the weights up and down, repeating until you feel fatigued.
Jumping jacks: Doing jumping jacks in the water provides extra resistance, increasing the cardio benefits. Perform them the same as you would on land — just make sure the water’s surface is chest level. Do one to three sets of eight to 12 reps.
Walking in the water: You don’t need to do an involved exercise to enjoy water aerobics. A simple stroll around the pool also counts. Ramp up the intensity by quickening your pace or adding water weights as you walk.
Doing squats strengthens your back muscles, glutes and quads and reduces your risk of knee injuries. For an overweight person, it’s best to start with modified squats until you build up the core strength to perform full squats. Eventually, you may be able to add weights, as well.
With a regular squat, you start with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and slowly lower your hips until your thighs are parallel with the floor. However, overweight people or people with bad knees can have trouble performing regular squats.
Here are three different ways you can modify squats:
Wall squat: These squats are ideal for individuals with knee issues. To perform one, lean against a wall with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Bend your knees and take two slow steps away from the wall while keeping your back against the wall. Slide down until your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Hold the position as long as you can and repeat it 10 times.
Sit-to-stand squat: To perform a sit-to-stand squat, sit on the edge of a chair with your legs a little wider than hip-width apart. Once you’re ready, stand up with your knees behind your toes and slowly lower your hips by bending your knees. You can either sit back down on the chair or hover just above until you feel fatigued. The chair serves as a support system to brace your fall and help you get started with squats.
Stand-to-sit squat: Stand in front of a chair and raise both arms perpendicular to your shoulders and parallel to the floor. Your palms should face the floor. Bend your knees and slowly lower your hips until they tap the edge of the chair, then stand up again. Repeat this movement 10 to 15 times.
This workout doesn’t require much instruction, as you likely perform it every day! As a low-impact aerobic exercise you regularly perform, walking is one of the easiest ways to start working out. Depending on your fitness level, you can walk as little or as much as you want, with or without assistance. For individuals dealing with excess weight, even walking slowly will burn calories as you use more energy to move your body.
To start out with a walking routine, find a comfortable pace and aim to walk for approximately 45 minutes per day. Do a treadmill workout or find an outside route with stimulating scenery to enjoy. As you find that goal becomes easier to fulfill, ramp up the intensity to maximize the health benefits of walking.
Here are some ways you can do so:
Increase your pace and duration.
Add some weights or wear a weighted vest.
Try Nordic walking, which involves two ski poles and utilizes your whole body.
Find routes with varied terrain, forcing you to walk uphill and downhill.
Increase the speed and incline on the treadmill.
Pump your arms to utilize your whole body.
Incorporate intervals of resistance training, such as modified squats, lunges, push-ups, planks or step-ups.
Once you master walking as a form of exercise, you can transition into jogging and running — look for running programs in your area to connect with your community for extra support.
A recumbent bike is a stationary bike that’s easier on your joints and back than upright stationary bikes because the seat puts your body in a more natural position. Participating in indoor cycling provides many health benefits.
When you exercise with a recumbent bike, you improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, enhance aerobic capacity and promote weight loss. Spending time on a bike is one of the best workouts to lose weight.
Yoga and Mind-Body Exercise
Exploring yoga and mind-body exercises benefits your mental and physical wellness. These exercises involve strategic movements, breathing exercises and meditative mindfulness. Some examples of mind-body exercises include Tai Chi, yoga and Qigong. Although plus-size individuals may find some yoga and mind-body exercise movements challenging, each type has movements and exercises that are accessible to people of every shape and size.
There are numerous ways you can lift free weights, from bicep curls to lateral arm raises. If you strength train at a gym, a personal trainer or fitness instructor can show you which weight machines to use and how to adjust them for your size and fitness level.
With free weights, here are some strength-training exercises you can try in your gym’s weight room:
Shoulder press: Sit or stand with a dumbbell in each hand, face your palms forward and extend your arms to the side with your elbows bent at 90-degree angles. Keeping your back straight, lift the dumbbells over your head until your arms are almost straight. Slowly return your arms to the starting position and repeat one to three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
Seated chest press: Sitting with a dumbbell in each hand and your palms facing the floor, lift the weights to your chest. Breathe out and extend your arms in front of you until they’re fully extended. Try not to let the dumbbells touch, and don’t lock your elbows. Pause for a brief moment after extending your arms, bend your elbows and return your arms to the starting position. Do 10 to 12 reps and one to three sets.
Bicep curls: Sit or stand with a dumbbell in each hand, elbows bent at your side and palms facing the ceiling. Curl the dumbbells toward your shoulders by bending your elbows without moving them from your side. Reverse the curl and repeat one to three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
Tricep extensions: Standing or sitting on a bench, hold one dumbbell with both hands. Lift the dumbbell over your head and fully extend your arms without locking your elbows. With your elbows by your ears, bend them to a 90-degree angle and lower the dumbbell behind your head. Slowly straighten your arms to raise the dumbbell above your head again. Repeat one to three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
Lateral raises: Stand tall or sit with a straight back and a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your arms at your sides and your palms facing your body. Raise your arms up and out to the side, keeping them straight until they’re parallel to your shoulder. Breathe in as you lift and breathe out as you lower your arms to the starting position. Repeat this exercise one to three times with 10 to 12 reps.
How 5 Bridges Health & Fitness Can Help
At 5 Bridges Health & Fitness, we have personal trainers in Harrisburg for every life stage and fitness level who are there to support your health and fitness transformation journey. With our proprietary fitness consultations, using 3D body scanning, functional movement screening and other fitness tests, you can know exactly what exercise program and diet plan your body needs to thrive. Better yet? You can request a free demo with a personal trainer to kick-off your fitness journey.
In homage to the five bridges that link Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, across the Susquehanna River, our fitness program philosophy is based on our “five bridges” to a healthy lifestyle. Those five bridges are:
Each bridge is essential to living a healthy life. Our membership plans are geared toward helping you find success with them.
Learn More About What 5 Bridges Health & Fitness Offers
If you think you could benefit from a certified personal trainer, we invite you to learn more about how we can help at 5 Bridges Health & Fitness. Our fitness center is packed with amenities to help you reach your fitness goals. In addition to personal training, we also have a variety of group classes.
Launch your health and fitness transformation with 5 Bridges Health & Fitness today!