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If you’re morbidly obese, you’re well aware that it’s a cruel lot in life. The worst part is that, according to many doctors and product manufacturers, you literally might be too fat to exercise and lose weight.
“Oh you weigh over 500 pounds? Sorry, we don’t have any exercise equipment that will support you. And you probably shouldn’t do anything strenuous or follow a strict diet anyway.”
Well, what the heck are you supposed to do if you’re ready to lose weight? It’s not a simple quesiton and it requires a two-fold answer: find a health professional who will work with you, and acquire some home exercise equipment designed specifically for morbidly obese people.
*Take the “find a health professional” part seriously. I am not a health professional and you should discuss any changes to your routine with a doctor. I am only sharing my personal experience.
The Best Home Workout for Morbidly Obese People: Walking
When one of my good friends decided to take total control over his weight he had a long way to go. He was unable to stand for more than 2-3 minutes (he couldn’t stand long enough to shower), could barely walk, and spent most of his time on his bed.
The path that he took was to control his diet while increasing his health and strength through walking/standing.
Walking is the cheapest, most natural, and probably the most effective exercise intervention there is for anyone who is not ultra-fit. In fact, I would guess that there have been more pounds lost and calories burned through walking that any other type of exercise.
The Advantages of Walking if You’re Morbidly Obese
One of the main advantages of walking if you’re morbidly obese is that it has a very low initial cost and a promise of extremely high rewards. In fact, a walking program (while watching your diet) could legitimately be all you ever need to control your weight. My friend that I mentioned above lost over half his body weight (300+ pounds) by simply walking. At that point, he felt strong and healthy enough to include other types of exercise into his routine.
If you haven’t been walking much and want to give it a go, I highly recommend that you get yourself a pair of heavy-duty walking shoes that fit well on wide or chubby feet. Having swollen or painful feet is a surefire way to quit walking long before you reach your goal. You can check out my favorite shoes (as well as my wife’s) in this article.
One of the main advantages of walking is that it doesn’t have a weight capacity. As long as your body is capable, you can stand up and walk. And if you can’t walk very far? Just do what you can! However, not everyone is comfortable just putting on their walking shoes and heading out on the street. I know that when I was at my heaviest, I felt that I should lose a significant amount of weight before I could be seen exercising. (That idea is obvious bunk, read more about my self-acceptance journey here).
However, if you’re not quite ready to venture out, there are several things you can do inside your home to get a great workout. The first, and most obvious, of these is to simply take my love for walking into the indoors with a heavy duty treadmill.
The Advantages of a Treadmill
Despite their massive size and weight, most treadmills are limited in capacity to around 300 pounds. This is mainly due to the massive amount of force that is placed on them with every step (especially if the user is jogging).
If you need a high capacity treadmill, we wrote about several in this article, but our favorite one is still the Sole TT8. It does have a weight capacity of 400 pounds however so if you’re significantly above that you’ll need to lose some weight through diet and other walking before hopping on.
If, however, you’re ready to avoid the outdoors and give walking a serious chance, you can find it on Amazon!
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Seated/Under Desk Exerciser
If you are not quite up to walking (or just hate it) there are a few other options out there. King among these is a seated exercise bike.
Seated exercise bikes are a great option if you’re morbidly obese because they don’t actually have to support your weight. You can get either an under-desk style floor bike or an arm cycle and get a workout that is not dependant on weight capacity. As long as you have a chair that will support you, you can exercise.
The main disadvantage of this type of equipment is that you will (hopefully) outgrow it fairly quickly. It is meant to be a passive type of exercise to maintain a certain level of fitness. However, the entry cost is typically 1/10th what it is for other heavy-duty exercise equipment so if you can get a few months or years of use out of it you’ll be in a good spot.
You can check out our full article on under desk cycles here.
I didn’t really plan this article this way but, as I wrote it, I realized that I have been including items roughly in the order that I integrated them into my own weight loss journey. Despite their long list of positive benefits I was never a huge fan of ellipticals which explains why they’re so far down on this list.
If walking or standing is too hard on your joints but you’re past the point of just using a handcycle an elliptical might be a great option for you. They allow you to get a great workout that integrates more of your body while still being fairly low impact.
The Advantages of an Elliptical
An elliptical has many advantages and one glaring problem for morbidly obese people. That is: it requires a base level of fitness. If you can’t use an elliptical due to balance of lack of leg strength, there isn’t much that can be done about it.
However, the best solution comes from a company called HCI Fitness. HCI has created an eliptical/recumbent stationary bike hybrid will a 500-pound weight capacity that is usable by someone at nearly any fitness level.
The seated position allows many people with disabilities or balance issues to still get a full-body workout with a much-reduced risk of injury. It doesn’t come cheap, but if you’re serious about your health it might be worth it for you!
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As your weight decreases and your physical abilities increase, you gain the option to burn calories much faster through high-intensity exercises. One of the best options that will blast away calories while still maintaining the low body/joint impact we’re looking for is a mini-tramp for heavy people.
If you’re around the 400lb (or lower) mark then we can easily find a home workout rebounder that will support your weight and give you the workout of your life!
The Advantages of a Mini Tramp
Mini-tramps are one of the best workout options for heavy adults because they are able to provide very high intensity while preserving your knee and hip joints.
If you’re imagining jumping on the tramp as a kid and thinking it was super easy you’re in for a shock. 15 minutes of bouncing is enough to have me dripping in sweat.
We reviewed several options in our full rebounders for large adults article but I personally own and use the bellicon Plus which supports up to 440lbs.
Choosing Home Exericse Equipment if You’re Morbidly Obese
When it comes down to it, any type of workout equipment you choose will do the job. Don’t base your choice simply on what will burn the most calories. Instead, try to find an option that you can see yourself legitimatley enjoying.
As long as the item you choose will support your weight and is within your abilities, it’s a good choice.
How to use your equipment to greatest effect
When it comes to weight loss (or anything else, really) I am not good at moderation. I’m either going to follow my diet plan to the “T” and drive my wife nuts or I am going to eat an entire pie whenever I feel like. There is no in-between.
However, to be successful in my weight loss journey I had to lose that bull-crap mentality. The truth is, being extreme about home exercise if your morbidly obese can be extremely detrimental to your overall progress.
People love to post on social media about how difficult their workout was but here’s a secret: super intense workouts don’t provide results. No matter how intensely you workout or diet, it’s going to take a year or more to lose a significant amount of weight. Read that again, a year or more. Stop looking for anything that promises faster results than that.
Rather, get yourself a great piece of home-workout equipment and just accept that, with consistent effort, you’ll be in a much better place a year from now.
“Long term consistency trumps short term intensity”— Bruce Lee
If you’re thinking about getting a treadmill, a pair of walking shoes, or anything else on this list, stop thinking. Just do it.
However, it’s important to remember that all the options that we discussed are simply tools meant to assist you. If you don’t work, none of them will.
So pick one, use it like crazy, and enjoy the journey. Best of luck!