Stretching and Warm-Up Exercises for Obese People

Easing into a workout routine can mean success.
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Starting a new fitness routine can be challenging for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for those who are obese. An adequate warm-up before a workout prepares your body for the physical exertion it is about to do and can help prevent injury and soreness. Stretching after a workout helps bring your body back to “normal” and prevents tight, sore muscles. Warm-up and stretching exercises for obese people should be low-impact, incorporate the entire body and allow full mobility.


Walking is one of the best low-impact warm-up exercises you can do. Low-impact exercises are important for obese people because they prevent excess weight from overstressing joints Walk at a comfortable pace for five to 10 minutes before any workout or use walking as your main workout. According to a study done at Harvard Medical School. 30 minutes of brisk walking can burn over 150 calories for an overweight female. Add a little fun to the mix by walking with a friend or your favorite four-legged friend.


Marching is a low-impact exercise that can up the ante on a warm-up routine while being easy on your joints if you have excess weight. When you do an exercise that involves jumping or both feet being off the ground at the same time, you land with forces up to five times your body weight, potentially devastating to the joints of an obese person. Marching keeps one foot on the ground at all times. While standing, lift one knee up as high as you can or until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Return to starting position and repeat with the other leg. Aim to march in place or across the floor for five minutes. The exaggerated leg lift of marching increases heart rate and pumps blood through major leg muscles, revving them up for the workout ahead without any pounding.

Arm Circles

Arm circles are a no-impact exercise that warm up your upper body while gradually increasing heart rate. They also improve mobility, which often be a problem for those struggling with obesity. Stand with your arms extended out to the sides like a “T,” and slowly move your arms in small circles forward. Gradually let the circles get bigger and then repeat in the opposite direction. You can also swing arms back and forth in front of you for a similar effect.

Leg Stretch

Stretching the hamstring muscles, located in the back of your upper leg, after a workout can prevent lower back pain, promote good posture and increase mobility. If you are obese, doing this exercise on the floor gives you more control over the stretch than if you were to do it standing since you do not have to support all of your body weight on one leg. Sit on the floor with feet apart to form a “V” with your legs. Keep your back straight and reach for your toes on one foot. Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds, repeat two to three times and then repeat with the other leg. Challenge yourself to stretch a little farther each time, but avoid crossing the line from uncomfortable to painful.

Arm Stretch

If you are carrying excess weight, it can take a toll on your upper back and cause slouching and bad posture over time. A tight upper body can limit your range of motion and make some activities difficult. For a comprehensive upper-body stretch stand with your arms extended out like a “T,” then cross one arm over your chest and gently hold your forearm with the other hand. Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds, repeat a few times and then stretch the other arm. This stretch loosens the triceps, rotator cuff and upper back muscles.


An obese person starting an exercise routing comes with a few additional concerns. Excess weight can increase your chance of problem with working out. Consult your doctor for advice before starting any fitness routine; be sure to start slowly and keep safety in mind. Ask a doctor about any concerns that might pop up during or after exercise as well.

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