Exercise Prescription for Overweight and Obese Individuals


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The lifespan of Americans has decreased 1 1/2 years, largely due to increases in hypertension and Type II Diabetes. Overweight leads to obesity, which leads to Metabolic Syndrome and Type II Diabetes, and all components of Metabolic Syndrome are major risk factors for Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and several forms of cancer. Since these special population groups may have numerous contra-indications to exercise and the exercise prescription itself may be compromised by the drugs prescribed by their physician, it is imperative that personal fitness trainers have the knowledge, skills and abilities to safely and effectively deal with these special population groups and consult frequently with the client’s doctor on the exercise program. While these diseases add risk to the exercise program, exercise may be the only real CURE at the client’s disposal. Recent studies show that virtually 100% of all patients that begin kidney dialysis are dead within 5 years. This sad statistic can be avoided if everyone would begin and maintain an exercise program starting in their youth, but as we well know, few actually do!

Exercise Prescription for Overweight and Obese

Frequency: 3-7 days/week (Ideally 7 days/week) of activity that causes an energy expenditure of 300 kcal/day (300 x 7 = 2100 kcal/week). Some clients may not be able to complete this initially, so following the GPO Principle, you may be required to start much lower, i.e.: 100 kcal/session. Intensity: 40-85% MHR Moderate intensity activity has much higher retention rates than higher intensity. Depending on the individual and the progression of Metabolic Syndrome, they may not have the glucose available for sustained aerobic activity so very low levels of Interval Training may be needed. This would require 40% of MHR with brief spikes up (50-75% of MHR) for a short period (10-30 secs) until the glucose tolerance improves. Research shows that glucose tolerance improves almost immediately following the first and each succeeding exercise session. Time: 10-60 mins. Initially, the very deconditioned client may only be able to go 10 minutes. If so, plan on 3-10 minute sessions/day until conditioning improves. Type:   Walking, Stationary Biking, Water Aerobics (Low/Non-Impact activities to begin). WARNING!! Excess body mass may limit ROM, agility, balance and coordination!

Strength/ Anaerobic Endurance Components of Fitness

Frequency: 5-7 days/week (Multiple sessions/day can be used if time permits. Improvements from flexibility sessions last approximately 4 hours.)
Intensity: Low-only to a point of tight, never pain
Time: 1 or 2 sets/muscle-muscle group
Type: IFPA Flexibility Specialists can use PNF. Static stretches can also be used by the client on their own.

The strength component for the exercise prescription is essential to maintain lean (muscle) body mass. Flexibility exercise has also been shown to dramatically increase fat loss. 70% of adults and 50% of school aged children were classified as obese in 2012. If you are reluctant to begin helping these special populations because of a lack of knowledge, skills and abilities, please visit the IFPA website: www.ifpa-fitness.com and explore the IFPA Advanced Exercise Prescription Specialist and IFPA Advanced Exercise Management Specialist Certification courses Best regards, Dr. Jim Bell, CEO IFPA  

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