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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What kind of physical exercise is important for someone obese?

    What type of exercise, how many times per week, how long each time?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 2


    Joanna Jaques

    Exercise Physiologist

    Joanna Jaques is the principal Exercise Physiologist and owner of Active Partnerships, a private practice located in Mosman, Sydney. With over 10 years in the … View Profile

    It is important to not just think about “exercise” but to take a whole day approach to being more active for those managing obesity.   In the longer term, a combination of less sedentary time, increased day to day activities and some planned exercise will be more effective for weight loss and better health.  A good starting point for many people is to identify periods when they are sitting for longer than an hour and to look at breaking these up with short periods of activity. I often recommend people trial wearing a pedometer, a simple self-monitoring tool, and aim to increase their daily activities to at least 5,000 steps per day and ultimately towards 10,000 steps per day.  Once this is achieved comfortably, an Exercise Physiologist can advise on an appropriate structured exercise program to increase volume of aerobic exercise (eg. walking) and introduce resistance (muscle strengthening) exercise.  The weekly “dose” of exercise for weight management benefits has shown to be at least 4-5 hours per week, making a gradually progressed whole-day approach much more achievable long term.

  • Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    Physical activity and exercise help burn calories. The amount of calories burned depends on the type, duration, and intensity of the activity. It also depends on the weight of the person. A 100 kg person will burn more calories running 2 km than a 60 kg person, because the work of carrying those extra 40 kg must be factored in. But exercise as a treatment for obesity is most effective when combined with a diet and weight-loss program. Exercise alone without dietary changes will have a limited effect on weight because one has to exercise a lot to simply lose 1/2 kg. However regular exercise  is an important part of a healthy lifestyle to maintain a healthy weight for the long term. Another advantage of regular exercise as part of a weight-loss program is a greater loss of body fat versus lean muscle compared to those who diet alone.Other benefits of exercise include

    • improved blood sugar control and increased insulin sensitivity (decreased insulin resistance),
    • reduced triglyceride levels and increased “good” HDL cholesterol levels,
    • lowered blood pressure,
    • a reduction in abdominal fat,
    • reduced risk of heart disease.
    Remember, these health benefits can occur independently (with or without) achieving weight loss. Before starting an exercise program, you should talk to your doctor about the type and intensity of the exercise program.General exercise recommendations
    • Perform 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise five to seven days a week, preferably daily. Types of exercise include walking, stationary bicycling, walking or jogging on a treadmill, stair climbing machines, jogging, and swimming.
    • Exercise can be broken up into smaller 10-minute sessions.
    • Start slowly and progress gradually to avoid injury, excessive soreness, or fatigue. Over time, build up to 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day.
    • People are never too old to start exercising. Even frail, elderly individuals (70-90 years of age) can improve their strength and balance.
    Exercise precautionsThe following people should consult a doctor before vigorous exercise:
    • Men over age 40 or women over age 50
    • Individuals with heart or lung disease, asthma, arthritis, or osteoporosis
    • Individuals who experience chest pressure or pain with exertion, or who develop fatigue or shortness of breath easily
    • Individuals with conditions or lifestyle factors that increase their risk of developing coronary heart disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cigarette smoking, high blood cholesterol, or having family members with early onset heart attacks and coronary heart disease
    • A patient who is obese

  • Kirsty Woods

    Exercise Physiologist

    Hi I’m Kirsty Woods,I would like to use my experience, expertise and passion to help you reach your weight, energy and health goalsI have been … View Profile

    What a wonderful question. As mentioned above improving activity throughout the day, such as taking the stairs and walking to the train station can all add up.  In terms of weight loss, Arlene is right; exercise must be combined with a healthy diet to be effective. Exercise is particularly important during weight maintenance.

    Everybody is different so there is no one particular type and duration of exercise for everyone. Both cardio exercise (walking) and resistance training (weights) have its benefits.  Walking is a great start to help improve fitness and also releases hormones to improve mood, sleep and energy. Building muscle with weights training can raise your metabolism so you burn more calories just by sitting and improve strength/reduce pain of joints.

    It is best to consult an Exercise Physiologist who can tailor a program specifically for you, and can provide the motivation and education to keep you going. Find your local Exercise Physiologist at  

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