Exercising While Underweight

Exercise might help you gain weight.
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Being underweight poses several health risks, including breathing problems, infertility, cancer and digestive concerns. Many people who need to gain weight mistakenly assume that they shouldn't exercise. However, exercise helps build muscle mass, which can increase your weight. Including more calories in your diet is also a good way to fuel muscle building activities and contributes to weight gain as well. Talk to your doctor before starting a weight-gain program.

Types of Exercise

Cardiovascular exercise burns calories, which makes it worrisome for many people trying to put on weight. Eliminating exercise from your routine entirely may result in health problems, so you should fit in some regularly. The American Council on Exercise recommends making strength training the majority of your exercise program. This type of exercise builds muscle mass, which might result in weight gain. Lifting weights and using resistance bands are good choices. In addition to building muscle, exercise increases your appetite, allowing you to eat more for weight gain.


You don't have to lift weights every day to gain weight; you actually shouldn't since your muscles need a day of rest to recover and repair. Bodybuilding.com recommends no more than 60 minutes of strength training, three days each week for beginners. Start with two sets of 10 to 12 repetitions of each exercise in your routine and add more as you gain strength and endurance. This helps produce results in two to three weeks. Choose exercises that target each of your major muscle groups, including your legs, arms, back, shoulders and core. This creates a proportionate look and allows you to gain weight all over your body.


Strength training burns calories, which means you must replenish them to contribute to weight gain. However, this doesn't mean you can eat anything, in any quantity. The key to healthy weight gain is to choose quality calories that fuel your exercise sessions while also providing your body with healthy fats and nutrients. Complex carbohydrates are important for energy and good sources include brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta and whole grain cereal. Protein is vital for supporting muscles and helping them gain in mass after a workout. Lean beef, chicken, fish, beans and dairy foods are good options. Healthy fats aid in weight gain, but are also good for your health. Avocados, salmon, nuts and olive oil are good choices.


Your specific calorie needs won't be the same as someone at a normal weight. Your doctor is a good resource for calculating how many calories you need to add pounds. This number is likely to change until you reach your goal and your calorie needs go down. Some people may begin losing weight if calories are cut, so monitor your weight carefully.

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