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Obesity and Exercise

Posted on June 6th, 2019 by Andries Lodder

By Jennifer Steele

Obesity is a complex disorder that involves an excess of body fat. This is not just a cosmetic concern as it can result in numerous health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.


An individual can be classified as obese in several ways.

  • BMI
    • When an individuals Body Mass Index (BMI) is greater than 30 they are classified as obese.
    • BMI can be calculated by dividing an individual’s weight (kg) by their height (m) squared. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 places an individual in the overweight category.
    • The problem with this method of classification is that BMI does not take an individual’s muscle mass into account. Therefore, a very muscular person such as a body builder and an obese person could have the same BMI even though their body composition is drastically different.
  • Body Fat Percentage
    • Individuals with body fat percentages of greater than 32% for women and 25% for men are considered obese.
    • Body fat can be measured using calipers, a body fat scale that uses bioelectrical impedance analysis, air displacement plethysmography, MRI scans or CT scans.
    • This can be a better way to establish an individuals body composition. However, the accuracy of the results can be hugely affected by the method used to calculate an individuals body fat percentage and so the results are not always reliable.
  • Waist Circumference
    • A waist circumference greater then 80 cm in women and 92 cm in men.
    • When measured in the correct place this can be a helpful measurement as it is a good indication of where an individual is storing their fat. When excess fat is mainly stored around the abdomen it increases an individuals risk of co-morbid diseases such as high cholesterol, heart problems and diabetes.

Obesity is a result of an energy imbalance, an excess of calories taken in and to few calories burned.

There are numerous factors that influence how many calories an individual burns each day, such as genes, gender, age, and body size. However, with all people the amount of physical activity performed each day has the biggest influence.

Keeping physical active and consuming a healthy diet can help people stay at a healthy weight, as well as help people lose weight. The amount of exercise each individual needs to do is dependent on their own personal goals. However the World Health Organisation does recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day or 2.5 hours a week. Moderate intensity exercise is any activity that increases your heart and breathing rate, but you are still able to maintain a conversation.

Examples of moderate intensity exercise:

  • Fast walking
  • Jogging
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Circuit training

Along with this moderate intensity exercise, including 2-3 resistance or strength training exercises sessions a week can also help to increase muscle mass which helps with fat loss.

When it comes to exercise it should be noted that doing any physical activity is better then doing none. If you are currently not exercising you should start gradually, and it can be beneficial to receive the help of a trained professional. If you have any health issues or co-morbid diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart conditions then seeking the help of a health care professional such as a Biokineticist is advisable as they can tailor make an exercise program appropriate for your health conditions.

Even just including a small amount of exercise into your lifestyle can drastically help improve your health. Just always remember that the weight won’t come off in a week and that a total lifestyle change, diet, exercise and mindset will get you the best results.

For more information or help on on improving your health don’t hesitate to contact us to set up an assessment.


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