How do I start running as a plus-size person? Insights for overweight beginners

Megan Smith
 min read

People want to exercise and lose weight for different reasons, but the advantages of regular exercise for both body and mind are well documented. As a consequence, how do I start running as a plus-size person is a frequently asked question.

how do I start running as a plus-size person insights for overweight beginnersWe thought it would help to list the main reasons why an obese person should start exercising and running.

We will detail the benefits of exercising if you are in this weight category or perhaps simply (a bit) overweight.

Last but not least, we also cover the best tips and advice for beginning runners.

The main reasons for exercise

Exercise is good for your heart

Cardiovascular disease is one of the foremost causes of death in the West. You won’t die from weak biceps, but you can die from a weak heart.

Endurance sports such as walking, jogging, running, cycling and swimming are optimal for a healthy heart (just like heart-healthy foods).

Exercise may also help your social life

It is way more fun and motivating to train with other people. Sessions become more enjoyable, and you will make more friends.

Don’t worry if you think you’re over the hill. There’s no age limit to enjoying the company of fellow enthusiasts!

Exercising can improve your financial situation

You may find this surprising, but leading a healthy lifestyle could actually be good for you financially.

Active people not only have a longer life span… They also enjoy a better quality of life.

On average, they don’t need to go to a doctor so often and require less medication than sedentary people.

That’s some money saved, which can be spent on more pleasant things.

In any case, it is cheaper and nicer to spend money on sports gear and other equipment rather than medical needs.

Sports can prevent osteoporosis

Did you know that exercise such as jumping on a trampoline can prevent osteoporosis?

The older you get, the more fragile your bones become, exacerbated by spending most of your day sitting down.

Regular exercise helps your bones, muscles and joints remain strong and supple and in good shape, which is very important if you fall or are in an accident.

In such cases, your lifestyle can determine how much harm is done to your body.

Exercise can prevent diabetes

Exercise is also helpful in preventing diabetes.

Movement allows glucose to penetrate the cells better. In other words, exercise can prevent certain forms of diabetes.

However, if you are already diabetic, exercise will also help (as long as it is a sensible and guided workout program).

Sport improves your respiratory system

Lungs and respiratory muscles are also enhanced by exercise and sports.

While sounding contradictory, it’s actually a good idea for asthmatics to exercise.

Ensure that you consult your physician for advice, as your condition will determine your exercise regime.

It lowers your chances of getting cancer, diseases and ailments

There is also scientific proof that regular exercise can help prevent some types of cancer (colon cancer and breast cancer, for example).

The best retirement plan that you could ever make, is investing in yourself.

Exercising throughout your lifetime is the best prevention of diseases commonly associated with old age, such as arthritis, osteoporosis and high blood pressure.

With regular exercise and keeping fit, your chances of a comfortable retirement without the usual ailments are a lot higher.

Exercise prevents obesity

Exercise stimulates your metabolism through muscle building and fat breakdown, which is essential to prevent and fight obesity.

That’s why Jack Lalanne stated the following:

Exercise is King and nutrition is Queen. Put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.

We do advise caution if you are struggling with excess weight! Take it easy and avoid overexertion as a beginner.

Exercise reduces stress, anxiety and depression

You can literally exercise the stress out of your body.

Exercise also affects mental health, and people who exercise regularly are usually more comfortable in their own skin.

Obese? Running is possible

Brisk walking and a gentle jog are ideal for obese people who want to exercise.

Obese people are no longer condemned to simply cycling or swimming in a public pool (obese people can opt for trampolining too for example).

All you need for running is a pair of good running shoes. And you can run where and when it suits you.

If you’re determined to do this, you won’t want bad weather to sabotage your efforts.

Invest in a treadmill that suits your weight, and you can walk and jog to your heart’s content in the privacy of your own space. Tip: Invest in a treadmill with a weight capacity of at least 300 pounds for maximum safety.

Note: Running doesn’t have to be part of a grand weight loss plan either, even if you are carrying some extra pounds… It can just be the stress buster you so badly need.

The risk of injury is higher for overweight people so prevention is key

If you’re obese, then running can be an injury-prone sport.

How do I start running as a plus-size person if I want to avoid injuries at all costs?

This means you must be aware that more body weight can be an additional risk in terms of injuries.

The forces on the feet, ankles, knees and hips can reach several times the body weight with each foot strike.

So, the greater the runner’s weight, the greater the forces and therefore, the greater the risk of injury.

You must also consider the intensity of the running movements themselves.

Even a gentle jog can cause the heart rate to rise to alarming levels if you’re a novice runner? This is especially true if you’re a beginner and overweight.

Although obese people are advised to begin with cycling training or swimming instead of running, there is very little to substantiate the thought that it’s better to do so.

Anyone can run, no matter how heavy or light they weigh, although overweight runners must be more careful about injuries.

The question then is whether, as an obese person, it is wiser to swim rather than run to minimize injuries.

There is no straightforward answer to this. The only thing that has been scientifically established is that osteoarthritis (wear and tear on joints) is more common in people with a higher BMI.

But whether jogging causes more wear than swimming or cycling cannot be scientifically proved. So if you are overweight and prefer jogging or walking, then do so.

How do I start running as a plus-size person? Advice for beginning runners

Finally, some advice for beginning runners who are overweight:

Seven tips to get started

  • Focus on yourself without comparing yourself to others. Accept your capabilities and limitations. Accept how it is, rather than what you wish it was.
  • Consider your running efforts as a medium-term project. If you start running consistently and remain committed to doing so, results will follow (including weight loss especially if you apply the best nutrition tips for maximum weight loss on a treadmill). Check how do I start exercising to lose weight for more information.
  • How do I start running as a plus-size person if I feel lonely all the time? Pair yourself with a running buddy who shares your same ambitions and is of the same level. You’ll be grateful for the support.
  • Consider your footwear carefully. Look for advice in the appropriate stores about running shoes for heavier runners. It may be pricier, but it will definitely be worth the investment!
  • Start off with a half-hour of walking, with a few minutes jogging slowly.
  • Build up your workout time gradually (no more than 5 to 10% per week). Always walk slowly and in your comfort zone. When you can walk without stopping for half an hour, then start to increase your speed. You can then start focusing more on your heart rate and incorporate some interval training.
  • If you lack confidence, choose a time and place where you won’t encounter too many people, perhaps early in the morning or late evening. Or consider buying a treadmill so you can run indoors in complete peace and privacy. Read how to choose the best treadmill with a high weight limit capacity for guidelines and tips.

Another 7 tips for beginners

  • Patience is a virtue. Since you are building up gradually, you will need more time than usual to reach set goals. You should work your way from one goal to the next (for example, from 15 minutes of continuous running to 30 minutes, and so on).
  • Strength training can help strengthen the ankles, knees, pelvis, trunk, and back, which will prevent injuries.
  • How do I start running as a plus-size person if I have no willpower or perseverance? Get advice from a knowledgeable trainer for the best exercises and their proper execution. Again, it’s essential to build up such activities slowly to avoid over-exertion leading to injuries.
  • Discuss your plans to start running with your family doctor (or possibly a sports doctor), especially if your BMI is high or on medication.
  • In hot weather, go slower. The subcutaneous fat prevents heat dissipation from the working muscles towards the skin, which can cause overheating and cramping.
  • For now, don’t worry about things like running technique, foot landing and reactive running.
  • Walk with slightly shorter strides rather than with too-long strides to minimize the forces on your lower limbs.

Conclusion: Running for overweight people is safe and OK

In the past, overweight people were often advised against running as exercise.

It was thought to be too difficult and that injuries would be inevitable.

Luckily, today we know better, and heavier runners are also experiencing the many positive effects of running on well-being and health.

About Megan Smith

Megan has been fighting overweight and her plus size since her teenage years. After trying all types of remedies without success, she started doing her own research. Megan founded Plus Size Zeal to share her findings. She also developed various detailed buying guides for plus-size people in order to make their lives easier and more comfortable. Read More