Where to exercise.
You can do many activities in your home. But there are other fun ways to
be active in health clubs, in recreation centers, or outdoors. It may be
hard to be active around other people. Keep in mind that you have just
as much right to be healthy and active as anyone else.
(weight bearing or non-weight bearing)
tone your muscles
improve your flexibility
make your heart stronger
make your lungs work better.
can dance in a health club, in a nightclub, or at home. To dance at
home, just move your body to some lively music!
Dancing on your feet is a weight bearing activity. Dancing while seated
lets you move your arms and legs to music while taking the weight off
your feet. This may be a good choice if you can’t stand on your feet
(See the list of resources at the end of
this booklet for seated workout videos.)
Water Workouts (non-weightbearing)
Exercising in water helps you feel:
You can bend and move
your body in water in ways you can’t on land.
Strong. Working against the
water will help your body get stronger.
At less risk of injury. Water
makes your body float. This keeps your joints from being pounded or
jarred and helps prevent sore muscles and injury.
Refreshed. You can keep cooler
in water—even when you are working hard.
don’t need to know how to swim to work out in water—you can do
shallow-water or deep-water exercises without swimming.
shallow-water exercise, the
water level should be between your waist and your chest. If the water is
too shallow, it will be hard to move your arms underwater. If the water
is deeper than chest height, it will be hard to keep your feet touching
the pool bottom.
deep-water exercise, most of
your body is underwater. This means that your whole body will get a good
workout. For safety and comfort, wear a foam belt or life jacket.
swim centers offer classes in water workouts. Check with the ones in
your area to find the best water workout for you.
(See the list of resources at the end of this
booklet to learn more about water exercises.)
ask when choosing a fitness center.
—Can the treadmills or benches support
people who are large?
—Do the fitness staff know how to work
with people of larger sizes?
—Can I take time to see how I like the
center before I sign up?
—Is the aim to have fun and get
healthy—not to lose weight?
Stretching (weight bearing or non-weight bearing)
make you more flexible (to help keep you from getting hurt)
make you feel relaxed
improve your blood flow
keep your muscles from getting tight after doing other exercises.
don’t have to set aside a special time or place to stretch. At home or
at work, stand up, push your arms toward the ceiling, and stretch.
Stretch slowly and only enough to feel tightness—not until you feel
pain. Hold the stretch, without bouncing, for about 30 seconds. Don’t
stretch cold muscles
and tai chi are types of stretching. They help you breath deeply, relax,
and get rid of stress.
local fitness center may offer yoga, tai chi, or other stretching
classes. You may want to start with “gentle” classes, like those aimed
(See the list of resources at the end of this booklet to learn more
about these exercises for large people.)
resources is for information only and does not imply endorsement by the
Walking . . . A Step in the Right Direction.
NIH Publication No. 01-4155. 1996. This pamphlet explains how to start a
walking program, presents a sample program, and shows stretches for
warming up and cooling down. Available from WIN.
Shape - The First Fitness Guide For Large Women, by Pat Lyons
and Debby Burgard,
Publisher, Emphasizes the pleasure and enjoyment of an active, healthy
life, rather than concentrating on losing weight. Describes walking,
dancing, swimming, aerobic activity, bicycling, and includes valuable
safety tips. Boosts self-esteem and restores self-confidence. Tells
where to find the right books, clothes, classes, organizations, and
. Visit also
Just the Weigh You Are: How to Be Fit and Healthy Whatever Your Size.
Steven Jonas and Linda Konner. Chapters Publishing, Ltd., 1997. This
book presents a plan for total fitness and healthy living no matter what
your size. Chapters focus on self-acceptance, improving nutrition
without dieting, managing stress, and exercising moderately. Available
from your local bookstore.
Don’t Weight: Eat Healthy and Get Moving NOW!
Kelly Bliss. Xlibris Corporation, 2000. This book provides motivation
and information for self-care and self-acceptance. It also teaches
problem solving techniques. There is information that will help the
large person plan and achieve a fitness program that can be sustained
for a lifetime. Available from KellyBliss.com, P.O. Box 572, Lansdowne,
PA 19050; phone: 1-877-KellyBliss; Web:
www.KellyBliss.com , or your
Martha D. White. 1995. This book presents water exercises for fitness
and muscle tone as well as exercises for injuries, postsurgical
rehabilitation, and other special needs. Available from Human Kinetics,
P.O. Box 5076, Champaign, IL 61825; phone: 1-800-747-4457;
Easy Does It Yoga.
American Yoga Association. Simon & Schuster, 1999. This book presents a
program of exercises, breathing, meditation, philosophy, and nutrition
for older adults and those with physical limitations. Simple chair
exercises and more challenging standing and floor exercises are
described. Available from the American Yoga Association, P.O. Box 19986,
Sarasota, FL 34276; phone: (941) 927-4977;
Ample Hygiene for Ample People.
Nancy Summer. Willendorf Press, 1997. This booklet offers tips for
dealing with reach problems, chafing, skin fold irritations, and more.
Available from the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, P.O.
Box 188866, Sacramento, CA 95818; phone: (916) 558-6880; Web:
Sandie Sabo. This resource guide lists more than 500 sources for
clothing and specialty items for large and very large women. (Some
listings offer unisex clothing.) Available from Sandie Sabo, P.O. Box
130244, Carlsbad, CA 92013; phone: (760) 918-0909.
Size Wise: A Catalog of More Than 1000
Resources for Living With Confidence and Comfort at Any Size.
Judy Sullivan. 1997. This book describes resources that offer products
or services for large people. It tells where to buy items like
swimsuits, bicycle seats, and walking shoes. It also has information on
exercise classes and sports instruction for large people throughout the
United States, Britain, and Canada. Available from
or your local
Yoga for Large People.
Mara Nesbitt-Aldrich. This 45-minute yoga video adapts the traditional
Hatha style yoga to large bodies. It emphasizes moving your body slowly
and safely to develop more mobility and flexibility and a relaxed
outlook on life. Available from Mara Nesbitt-Aldrich, P.O. Box 19141,
Portland OR 97280; Web:
Jodi Stolove. This no-impact video series is designed to improve muscle
tone, flexibility, and cardio-vascular endurance without putting stress
on your knees, back, hips, or feet. Available from Chair Dancing
International, Inc., 2658 Del Mar Heights Road, Del Mar, CA 92014;
phone: 1-800-551-4386; Web:
Tai Chi Chuan.
Dawn Fleetwood. This 50-minute instructional video features slow, gentle
movements and breathing exercises that involve all of the muscles and
organs in the body. Available from Orchid Leaf Productions, P.O. Box 72,
Flint, MI 48501; phone: (810) 235-9864.
YMCA and YWCA.
The Young Men’s Christian Association and Young Women’s Christian
Association offer physical fitness and health awareness programs in many
locations throughout the United States. Contact YMCA of the U.S.A., 101
N. Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL 60606; phone: (312) 977-0031; Web:
. Contact YWCA of the
U.S.A., Empire State Building, 350 Fifth Ave., Suite 301, New York, NY
10118; phone: (212) 273-7800, Web:
Council on Size and Weight Discrimination, Inc.
This nonprofit organization seeks to improve health care and access to
services for large people through educational programs, media
monitoring, and medical conference attendance. Contact CSWD at: P.O. Box
305, Mount Marion, NY 12456; phone: (914) 679-1209, Web:
National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.
This nonprofit organization seeks to end discrimination based on body
size and to improve the quality of life for large people. It offers a
variety of publications and videos on size acceptance, self-esteem, and
health and fitness. Contact NAAFA at: P.O. Box 188620, Sacramento, CA
95818; phone: (916) 558-6880. Web:
This site addresses issues ranging from self-esteem to fitness to
finding respectful health care providers. It includes resources and
links to related sites. Web:
Big Folks Exercise and Fitness Resources Frequently Asked Questions
This site provides information on where to buy clothing, videos, and
books on exercise and fitness for big people. It also lists
organizations and classes worldwide for large people. Web:
Healthy Living with Bliss.™
This site includes information on walking, swimming, aerobics,
stretching, and other fitness activities for large and very large
people. A resource section includes fitness wear, books, exercise
equipment, classes, and information on where to buy fitness videos for
large people. There is an online workbook and a weekly chat with a
plus-size personal fitness trainer. Web:
Special thanks to the Women of Substance Health
Spa for providing many of the photographs in this brochure.