Obesity

Obesity is term used to describe someone who is very overweight. But it isn’t just about how heavy you are, it is more to do with how much body fat you have.

Anyone can be obese, obese children suffer not only health problems but also emotional and behavioural problems. Obese adults are at a high risk of developing heart problems or having a stroke, increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and of developing some cancers. Anything you can do to avoid these conditions has to be worth doing.

Exercise is very beneficial in improving the health of people who are obese. It helps build up muscle and reduce fat, although it is useful to remember that exercise alone might not result in a dramatic loss of weight. You might not weigh a lot less, but you will be much healthier,and you’ll feel much better.

A combination of diet and exercise is the best way to reduce weight, or if dieting isn’t right for you try being active for a minimum of 300 minutes per week (that’s 5 hours, it sounds a lot, but it’s only 45 minutes per day).

It’s not all about being thin – a fit ‘fat’ person has a lower risk of serious health problems than an unfit thin person.

If you are obese you might find it hard to start being active. But it’s okay to start small. You can start by reducing the amount of time you spend sitting. Aim to get up and walk about for 5 minutes every hour. Then look at a gentle walk, even a 10 minute walk can make a difference.

Any exercise you do will help improve your health. Starting small means you can gradually build up the duration and intensity of the activity – start by increasing the length of time you spend walking and decreasing the time you spend sitting. As you start to get fitter you will find it easier to do more and keep going. Ideally you need to do aerobic exercise to get the greatest benefit, that is any activity where you start to get warmer and feel slightly out of breath. But don’t let that you put you off starting, you don’t have to join a gym, a brisk walk is enough to make a real difference.

Being more active is likely to lower your blood pressure, you’ll find it easier to breathe and your waist size will reduce.

BUT you may not get a lot lighter. Activity will help you lose fat and build muscle. Your body will be in much better shape but as muscle is heavy, your weight might not go down as much as you’d expect. For the best effect you should  combine diet and exercise.

You will feel better if you are more active. Most obese people aren’t very happy, exercise can bring benefits by lifting your mood and improving your overall well being.

What activities will help

When you are getting started activities that you can fit into your everyday life are great, for example brisk walking, gardening or cycling. As your fitness improves try including swimming or exercise classes. Or you can set yourself a target to walk a set number of steps a day, or climb a fixed number of stairs, or both of course.

NICE recognise the health benefits of being active for obese people, even if increased activity doesn’t result in significant weight loss.

They recommend that health professionals encourage adults to do at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on 5 or more days a week. This can be in one session a day, or in several sessions of 10 minutes or more.

People who have been obese and have lost weight may need to do 60-90 minutes of physical activity per day to avoid regaining weight.

Adults should build up their activity levels, using a managed approach with agreed goals.

For children NICE advise a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per day.