How To Work Out When You’re Morbidly Obese

I hate running. And if I am running, you’d better, too. Because something’s chasing us.

How do you work out when you’re morbidly obese? Moving your body – especially when it is over 250 pounds – is a unique challenge. Being overweight can easily be the reason you stay overweight.

When I weighed over 300 pounds, I had to exercise with an extra 168 pounds of weight that I could never set down. This made basic things, like sleeping on my stomach or rolling over, hard. Like, impossibly hard.

No way I’d gyrate my body in public when I couldn’t even roll over on the floor.

So, how did I go from not being able to roll over to jumping the apex in roller derby? (Just kidding, I haven’t done that – yet!)

I took baby steps. But I always kept moving, hopefully not backward – but that’s still movement, so it’s not the worst thing, either.

Accept Your Newbie Status

On my skates at 250+ pounds

Whatever you choose to do, you’ll likely be pretty bad at it. Unless, you’ve spent years doing the movements prior. Then, do not discount how fast you’ll fly through newbie status toward the place where you left off.

We recently had a roller derby refresher, after more than a year of pandemic banned practices.

Many derby players refused to come to the refresher, because they feared getting hurt. These are top level athletes, who hit each other for fun.

Your fears are valid. And they provide even more reasons to take it slow.

It is more than acceptable to look like a baby giraffe when you first start out exercising. Especially if the alternative is wearing a cast for a broken bone.

In fact, check out the post, The Best Detox Diet For Weight Loss You’ll Ever Do, on why it is so important to laugh and enjoy your work-out if you want to lose weight! Stressing out while exercise can be counterproductive. Have fun!

Find “Your Thing” to Work Out When You’re Morbidly Obese

I love to roller skate. But I understand that not everyone else does. You are all missing out, I just have to say.

But, that’s ok. You might love some other form of exercise. Or, you might not be at a low enough weight that roller skating is a safe activity yet.

But, if you’re over 250 pounds, exercise really can be difficult. Working out at that weight is different than working out under 250 pounds. So, how do you work out when you’re morbidly obese?

You need to exercise in a different way than just popping over to the gym, and pounding the weights.

And, the downside is that if you choose to workout in public, people are going to stare. It’s like they expect you to only work out when you’re already skinny. So, how do you even work out when you’re morbidly obese when everyone won’t mind their own business?

You’ve got to find something you love doing that is safe to do. When you love it, you stop focusing on what other people think.

And you start focusing on doing the movements right.

What Are The Best Exercises When You’re Over 300 Pounds

The best exercises when you’re over 300 pounds are the things that do not stress your joints.

You have to build muscle and reach your ideal cardio heart rate, but you have to keep in mind the stress on your joints.

These exercises are ideal for you until you reach around 250 pounds, and there are a lot of options to keep you from getting bored as you lose the weight:

  • Swimming laps
  • Walking laps in the swimming pool
  • Walking outdoors
  • Lifting Free Weights
  • Low-Impact Aerobics/Dancing
  • Using Resistance Band
  • Yoga
  • KickBoxing


This lady is crazy, I’d never get into a swimming suit!

I know, I know. But swimming is such a great cardio, whole body exercise. Besides, once you get into the pool nobody can see your body.

They’ll still stare, though. There’s nothing that draws a stare like an overweight person trying to get healthy in a gym, in my experience anyway.

But just pop in your waterproof headphones and turn on your waterproof MP3 player, and swim off the pounds. Once you’re underwater no one can see you flip them off anyway. These are the ones I used, by the way, and what a lifesaver.

All I had to do was put them on, swim in time to the beat, and try not to drown. It was way more fun than I’m making it sound. I promise.

You don’t have to find a swimming suit, either. That felt like a real challenge for me as a size 28+. A pair of shorts and a t-shirt (with sports bra) work just the same way.


Maybe you’re not ready for full on swimming yet. That’s ok. Just start walking the laps instead. Most olympic or gym swimming pools have laps that are around the 4ft mark the entire length of the lap.

Just walk. Back and forth, back and forth. Moving your body with some resistance is how to work out when you’re morbidly obese. It’s the secret sauce.

It’s really good resistance training, and if you’re adverse to walking in public, the pool hides most of your body. So, that’s a nice option.

Just know, there will be staring. Ignore them.

Walking Outdoors

Again… the stares.

But you HAVE to walk. Especially if you’re getting gastric bypass. Walking will be the best way to move the gas from the surgery out of your body. And promote healing in general.

Use that MP3 player from swimming, or listen to the podcast as you walk. Ignore them. You belong here. You’re doing the right thing.

Walk briskly. This will be a different level of intensity for everyone. And just walking for 10 minutes may have everything in your body burning.

Remember the 70% rule for your breathing: you need to be able to hold a conversation, not easily. But if you can’t talk, back it off.

The shoes you choose will make a difference here, I promise.

Check out the brand New Balance. Why them specifically? Because they come in a WIDE option.

As you start to lose the weight, you will lose weight in your feet. But until that day, you need to choose the shoe that actually fits for comfort.

I bought my sneakers more than five years ago, and am still wearing them today. I love them, and they last. They may be $70 upfront, but that’s only $14 each year. I have only had to buy the one pair.

How many shoes have you bought this year for less than $15? Seriously worth it.

Lifting Free Weights

You can go to the gym, or you can lift weights on your own couch. Your choice.

Whatever you decide, choose the free weights in the 3 pounds, 5 pounds, and 8 pounds range. You might think lifting 3 pounds is super easy, but lifting 3 pounds for three sets of fifteen is a different story.

And that’s why getting a free weight set with the different weight limits is important. You will build muscle. And when you do, you’ll want to have the next set.

You’re not going to blow through the eight pound mark fast, trust me on that one. Eight pounds is pretty heavy when you’re just starting to build muscle.

Once you’re past the eight pound mark, you’ll likely be ready for the gym any way. Any strength training is a great idea for how to work out when you’re morbidly obese. Your muscles need targeted work.

There are some awesome, free videos you can follow along with on YouTube from personal trainers that will show you how to use those free weights.

I personally love Chloe Ting. Which is perfect for the next exercise!

Low-Impact Aerobics/Dancing

Chloe Ting on YouTube has over 20 MILLION subscribers. I’m one of them… I love her!

She provides really easy to follow videos that are free. Don’t be fooled by the HIIT (High-Impact Interval Training) category.

In her videos, she provides the low-impact alternative.

I often have to decrease my own intensity when working out to her videos to the low impact option.

The videos are short, only about 15-20 minutes. And all you need is your own Livingroom.

If you do one video or three, the results will be amazing.

I didn’t fully appreciate this type of exercise when I was overweight. It wasn’t until I started to do CrossFit to get better at roller derby that I really understood the benefits of the HIIT type of workouts.

They are so effective, though, they are hard. Which is why the low-impact option is what makes me love the Chloe Ting workouts.

Don’t get intimidated by anything about these videos. You are in your own Livingroom. You can pause whenever you need to, and no one will know you took an extra break.

Just try. That’s all you have to do.

Using Resistance Bands

Again, I’m going to send you over to Chloe Ting. She’s amazing, and there’s no point in me trying to recreate the wheel when she’s already done a great job.

Just search Chloe Ting Resistance Bands on YouTube and start building your muscles.

This style of resistance band is my preference, where you can grip and wrap the band instead of having to slip a band over the calves and thighs.

Those other bands look super cute on those thin girls, and you may be tempted to try them, too.

But you don’t think about how they will barely fit over one calf until you’re crying on the floor, frustrated and embarrassed because the work out equipment isn’t made for people who actually have to work out to lose weight to fit stuff. Then, the bands are never used again, and now it’s ice cream time not work-out time.

Just me? Ok… moving on.


I didn’t think of yoga as a really effective weight loss exercise. But we used to end our roller derby practices with Yoga poses.

And now I know what I was missing out on all these years.

Yoga, done right, means you are holding the poses. By holding the poses, you are building muscle.

Getting into some of those poses at 300 pounds plus can be a challenge in itself, though.

So, again, YouTube videos on your Livingroom floor may be the best option here.

Just try for two weeks. See how you feel, and if you find any joy in the calm that can be found through Yoga.


I bet you won’t find this one on many lists for how to work out when you’re morbidly obese. But these movements can be done in the privacy of your own Livingroom.

You don’t have to join a studio, just yet. Though, you may want to at some point.

Personally, I didn’t join my roller derby league until I was under the 300 pound mark. It’s just a lot easier to move your body when you’re smaller. And so, less embarrassing.

So, check out YouTube again, and look up the kickboxing experts.

Stay at your own intensity level, pause when needed, and try to stay in the 70% heart rate burning zone where it’s hard to talk, but not impossible.

Do it privately, or rope in your family for some roundhouse fun.

Do “Your Thing” And Actually Work Out When You’re Morbidly Obese

Whatever you find you love to do, as long as you can enjoy it for 30 minutes, four or more times a week, with your heart rate at 70% maximum, you’ll see progress.

You have to show up, and show up consistently.

When you set aside time for exercise, you need to give everything you have in that moment. You can’t just go through the motions.

You are there to exercise, so don’t be afraid to get a little sweaty. It doesn’t feel pleasant at first. But, then you’ll get the endorphin kick, and you’ll start to love it.

Give it time, and repetition.

Aim for 4 days a week, 30 minutes or more, hitting 70% of your maximum heart rate (you’ll know you’ve hit this because it’s harder to breathe).

Your Ideal Work Out
Your Ideal Work Out

Stay Alert For Increased Hunger!

When you start to move your body more, you will begin to experience hunger pains. This is your brain recognizing that the amount of calories your are burning will require more calories to maintain your weight.

You don’t want to maintain your weight!

Remember that, as you ramp up your metabolism. Stay strong! Find the fiber carbs and proteins to stay full.

Related: How To Fuel Your Body To Lose Weight

When You’re Ready, Roller Skate!

I feel like I’m on a mission to get the world on roller skates. I love it so much.

All of these options are great for how to work out when you’re morbidly obese.

If you feel like you’ve built up enough muscle through these other exercises that you have a strong enough core (abdomen and back), then try some skates.

Just, promise me you will wear knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, and a helmet.

Falling without those things is no fun, ESPECIALLY when you’re 250 pounds plus.

But there is a freedom in roller skating down a sidewalk trail or in a parking lot or at the local skating rink.

It’s like flying and dancing at the same time. Until you fall. Wear the pads, please.

Whatever you decide to do, the most important thing is to try different things until you find something you love to do.

Never give up.

Get moving!

Happy Weight Loss <3

Related: How To Stop Failing At Weight Loss


For most of my life I was overweight. In my 30s, I became morbidly obese, tipping the scales over 330 pounds. After trying and failing at every diet, I decided to get gastric bypass RNY weight loss surgery. Since 2016 I have been living a much healthier life, I hit my weight loss goals, but more importantly, understand weight loss now. I am determined to share what I now know.

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