As a lifelong “chubby person”, I know I need to exercise more, but most fitness classes just aren’t set up for people like me. So I put together some easy fitness ideas that anyone can do, regardless of their age, fitness level, or any limitations – such as injuries, arthritis, or lack of coordination.
I wanted to call this exercise for the physically pfffft, but I didn’t know if people would get the joke!
Let’s face it, lots of us are always saying that we need to exercise more. But in order to make that happen, you need to have a concrete plan that will make exercise fun, easy, and sustainable day after day, week after week. But that’s not easy and a lot of people struggle to get to that step. We’ve ALL done the big New Year’s Resolution that we’re going to go to the gym every day, or get in 30 minutes worth of exercise every single day – starting tomorrow. But let’s get real. 90% of the time, that doesn’t work at all.
Going to a gym is seriously INTIMIDATING. It probably is even for skinny people, but when you’re carrying a significant amount of extra weight, it’s extra tough. You’re surrounded by all these people in skin-tight spandex and VERY few of them look anything like you. And what do you even wear? Active wear for larger folks is pretty hard to find, and I’m not about to shoehorn myself into something stretchy that shows every lump and bump. #nothankyou I usually wear loose-fitting track pants and a big t-shirt.
And the whole environment of the gym is intimidating. You’re trudging on the treadmill at 1.5 MPH next to someone who might be an Olympic sprinter and is going at 3 times your speed. And try taking a fitness class with a whole room full of ultra-fit people – it’s super intimidating. Will you be able to keep up? You’re always on the wrong foot. Is the scary instructor going to yell at you if you stop and take a nap in the middle of the workout? I once FARTED loudly in the middle of a crowded yoga class. I’ve never been to a yoga class again…
And let’s face it, it’s HARD to do vigorous exercise when you’re quite heavy. I thought about it once – I looked at my leg and tried to calculate it out as a percentage of my body weight. That was an eye-opener. I figured that each of my legs probably weighs in at around 70 lbs. That means, just my LEGS weigh about as much as the whole skinny girl working out next to me! No wonder I get all sweaty and out of breath.
Happily, there’s a better way. Easy fitness ideas for chubby people
The good news is, you don’t HAVE to go to the gym if you don’t want to. And honestly, it’s not even a very good deal. Check out my post on the pitfalls of gym membership. There are TONS of options these days that will help you keep fit and healthy without ever leaving your own home, or at least your own neighborhood.
- Walk – Indoors or outdoors – here’s my post on my indoor walking program
- Climb up and down stairs in your own home
- Do yoga – there’s even chair yoga that is especially for larger people
- Do YouTube workouts of every imaginable type and fitness level. Silver Sneakers workouts are great and there are some seated workouts if you are mobility challenged.
- Buy fitness DVD’s or get a streaming subscription. Even Netflix and Amazon Prime have some workout options included
- Get a treadmill, bike, rowing machine, mini trampoline, etc.
- I like walking workouts by Leslie Sansone or Jessica Smith. They’re easy to do, cheap, and easy to find. I’ve even found some standing pilates workouts because getting up and down from the floor is hard and a little bit dangerous when you’re pretty big.
Walking and Other Low Impact Exercises
If you haven’t exercised in a while, or are looking for something easy you can do every single day give walking a try. It’s the perfect low impact way to exercise so you don’t overstress your joints. It’s easy to do, you don’t need any special equipment and you can start at the fitness level you’re at. That makes it one of my favorite easy fitness tips.
If you’re not in the best of shape, start by going for a 10 or 15 minute walk around the neighborhood and work your way up from there. If you’re already in great shape, walking can still provide an great workout. Walk fast and incorporate some hills and even stairs. Do it early before it gets too hot in the day.
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. If you’re like most of us, chances are you haven’t exercised much since you got out of college and need to start small. Maybe your doctor suggested that you move around more, or maybe you just want to be proactive about your health and well-being. In either case, walking is the perfect way to start.
Find a pair of comfortable shoes, put them on and go for a stroll through your neighborhood. You could also find a local park with a nice path you can walk on. If the weather doesn’t permit walking outside, head to your local mall (DON’T bring your credit cards!) and walk around or hop on a treadmill with a good podcast or audio book. Make it fun and rewarding so you won’t dread it.
You can even walk in place at home in front of your TV. Here’s a simple little idea to get you moving more. As you’re sitting on the couch at night watching TV, get up during commercial breaks and march in place until your favorite TV show comes back on. If you’re using a service like Netflix, make yourself walk in place for 10 minutes in between episodes. Or turn on the TV and challenge yourself to march in place during the entire show. Time will fly while you’re having fun watching TV and moving.
Here’s my favorite trick. Every time I get up to use the restroom, I do a set up and down the stairs, or a few laps back and forth through the house. Then I give myself a high five or something. That little celebration moment is important! Here’s a Ted Talk on how you can build habits through celebration. We just do not give ourselves enough pats on the back when we do good things!
Speaking of having fun, going for a walk outside can be a lot of fun too. Mix up your route and walk in different areas of town, or visit different parks. Invite a friend to come along with you to walk. It’s always nice to have someone to talk to and having a walking buddy keeps you accountable. And CELEBRATE – just not with an ice cream sundae – whoops!
The main thing is that you get out there, move around, and get some exercise in a way that’s gentle on your joints, your heart, and the rest of your body and that’s what walking will do for you. Just give it a try and see if you don’t start to feel better, happier, and stronger after a few weeks of regular walks.
Take a Dance Class or Zumba or Jazzercise
This is my favorite option. I walk sometimes, but I’d much rather do a dance video or a Zumba class. Even though my fitness level is pretty bad, I can make it through a one-hour Zumba class, no problem. In fact, I realized that I’ve been doing Zumba classes anywhere from one to three times per week for the last 8 years. I even did them a few times during my breast cancer treatments – when I was feeling up to it – yay me! My Oncologist is thrilled that I’m continuing to exercise regularly – he says that’s one of the best ways to prevent a recurrence.
I’m usually the oldest and biggest person in the Zumba class, but you know what, I’ve decided I don’t give a rat’s butt! Some of these kids are the same age as my grandkids, but that’s OK. I’m doing what I need to be doing for my own health and fitness. It costs me about $6 bucks per class at the local fitness center. Yes, some of the stretching moves, I can’t do, and I’m not the most coordinated person in the world, but as long as I keep showing up for class every week, that’s all that counts. And I’ve met some very nice people.
Simple Hacks To Help You Build New Habits
Make no mistake, this is a new habit and creating new habits isn’t easy. You’ve got to water it and love it, just like a new little seedling. Here are six simple hacks that will make nurturing your new habit just a little easier. Use them until you’ve internalized the new habit and don’t need them anymore.
Schedule It On Your To-Do List
Sometimes we forget to do that new thing we were trying. Maybe we forget that we’re supposed to be having eggs for breakfast instead of a stack of waffles, or that we need to get that daily walk in. Schedule your new habits or make them part of your daily to-do list until they become something you do automatically. That’s why we call them easy fitness ideas and not horrible ordeals that you hate to do – ha!
Make It Public and Be Accountable
Let family and friends know what new habits you’re trying to establish and ask for their support. My hubby is my big downfall. He’s such a nice guy, but he likes to eat the worst diet in the world! And exercise – naaaah, that’s a four letter word for him. So I had to have a long talk with him after 35 years of going along with the program that I am moving in a new direction. He can play along, or I will just do my own thing and let him do what he wants. So, he’s been more supportive and applauds me for exercising and eating better.
You may even go as far as sharing it publicly on Facebook or write a blog about your new journey. Knowing that others read it and know about it might be just enough to keep you going when you feel like throwing in the towel. Be careful with this one. There are some folks who just want to rain on anyone’s parade on social media. So maybe share it more privately with trusted friends and supportive family members. Or in a private Facebook group that is full of supportive folks.
Piggyback On A Habit You Already Have
Whenever possible, add the new habit to one you already have. For example, if you fix a cup of tea or coffee at 4pm, and you want to get in the habit of taking a daily walk, make the new ritual to go for your walk and then come back and enjoy your tea. This is called Habit Stacking – it’s covered extensively in this wonderful book by Atomic Habits by James Clear. He is my hero and I’ve read his stuff for years. Really brilliant guy in this area.
It’s much easier to amend an existing habit or ritual than creating an entirely new one and building new habits is easier than you would’ve expected. His strategy is just 1% improvements. Even tiny changes add up over months and years of doing them.
Make Slipups Costly
Here’s a fun idea. Put a jar on the kitchen counter and each time you slip back into your bad habit or forget to stick to the new one you have to put a buck in the jar. It will quickly help you remember to skip that sugary food and motivate you to go out for that walk. For extra motivation donate the money to charity at the end of the month or hand it over to your spouse to go spend on him or herself.
Flip it the other way and put a dollar in your pocket every time you DO the positive behavior. It’s not that hard, just go to the bank and get 20 one-dollar bills. When the jar is empty, treat yourself to a new audiobook or some new spiffy new walking shoes.
Some people are more reward focused and some people are more loss averse. Just figure out which one works for you. I used to use this with my kids when they were younger. There were little toys or rewards they could earn by being good or I would take away points if they were being a pain. Worked great to focus their attention on the goal.
Find A Partner and Help Each Other Along
Find someone with the same or similar goal. This could be a workout partner or a diet buddy. Keep tabs on each other and encourage each other to keep going. It’s much harder to skip a walk if you know someone else is depending on you being there. I have a friend in my Zumba class and I often go just to be able to see her and visit for a moment after class. Every little bit of encouragement helps!
Make It A Group Challenge
If one accountability partner is good, a whole group is even better. And they don’t even need to be local. Find a supportive group online and challenge each other to stick to your new habit for the next 30 days or so. Not wanting to be the first one to give up will keep all of you going until you establish that new habit. There are dozens of these groups on Facebook. Pick one and give it a try.
I hope these easy fitness ideas have been helpful. Give these little hacks a try. You probably won’t see results overnight, but keep at it for a month or two and you’ll definitely see a big difference!