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You Can Be Active at Any Size

For large people, getting more active can be a daunting ... Just walking to the corner can take all the energy you have. But that's the key: You do what you can and build from ... Nationa

For large people, getting more active can be a daunting challenge. Just walking to the corner can take all the energy you have. But that's the key: You do what you can and build from there.

The National Institute on Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, part of the National Institutes of Health, explores the special challenges of the obese in its booklet, Active at Any Size.

"Very large people face special challenges in trying to be active," the NIDDK notes. "You may not be able to bend or move in the same way that other people can. It may be hard to find clothes and equipment for exercising. You may feel self-conscious being active around other people. Facing these challenges is hard—but it can be done!"

The booklet describes activities that very large people can undertake, and it takes special care to include non-weight-bearing activities such as water exercise and bicycling, to avoid stressing knee and ankle joints.

The NIDDK's points for getting started and keeping at it pretty much apply to people of all sizes:

1. Start slowly. Your body needs time to get used to your new activity.

2. Warm up. Warm-ups get your body ready for action. Shrug your shoulders, tap your toes, swing your arms, or march in place. You should spend a few minutes warming up for any activity—even walking.

3. Cool down. Slow down little by little. If you have been walking fast, walk slower to cool down. Or stretch for a few minutes. Cooling down may protect your heart, relax your muscles, and keep you from getting hurt.

4. Set goals. Set short-term and long-term goals. A short-term goal may be to walk 5 minutes at least 3 days for 1 week. A long-term goal may be to walk 30 minutes most days of the week by the end of 6 months.

5. Track progress. Keep a journal of your activity. You may not feel like you are making progress but when you look back at where you started, you may be pleasantly surprised!

6. Fit activity into your daily life. Plan ahead and try to be active when it works best for you.

7. Get support. Get a family member or friend to be active with you. It may be more fun, and an exercise buddy can cheer you on.

8. Have fun. Try different activities to find the ones you really enjoy.

"If you can’t do an activity, don’t be hard on yourselfFree Web Content," the NIDDK suggests. "Feel good about what you can do. Be proud of pushing yourself up out of a chair or walking a short distance. Pat yourself on the back for trying even if you can’t do it the first time. It may be easier the next time."

You can see an online copy of the "Active at Any Size" booklet at:

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Michael Hallinan overcame a lifelong obesity, and the midlife discovery of health and fitness so changed his life that he established a coaching practice specializing in helping others find their own healthy way to a healthy weight. For more helpful tips, subscribe to the Healthy Weight Newsletter. For past issues and to subscribe see

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