Exercise Considerations for Obese Clients

As a Fitness Professional, you need to understand the exercise considerations for Obese clients, and the qualifications required to work with them effectively.

Today’s blog will explore the definition of obesity, who can work with clients over BMI 30 +, exercise guidelines and exercise considerations for obese clients.

At the bottom of this blog, you’ll also find three mock questions to test your knowledge

Watch: Exercise Considerations for Obese Clients

What is Obesity?

Obesity is a clinical condition defined using BMI (Body Mass Index). The world health organisation define obesity as:

Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A body mass index (BMI) over 25 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese. 

World Health Organisation (WHO)

in 2016, 650 million adults worldwide, were considered to be Obese, with over 4 million people dying each year as a result of being overweight or obese.

Who can work with obese clients that are BMI 30+?

Not all fitness professionals can work with all clients. Knowledge and understanding of obese clients is not explored in the foundational qualifications of Level 2 gym, Level 3 Personal Trainer, Level 3 Pilates or Level 3 Yoga.

Therefore, if you want to work with clients that are BMI of 30 or higher, you will need to have a specialist qualification that teaches you how to adapt exercise to the complex needs of obese clients.

These specialist qualifications include the Diploma in Exercise Referral or the New Level 3 Diploma in Supporting Clients With Long Term Conditions.

This qualification teaches you all of the considerations and contraindications for working with obese clients. plus you learn how to manage 27 other clinical conditions. These other conditions often exist alongside obesity as comorbidity, they include mental health, diabetes, hypertension and back pain, amongst many more.

Exercise Guidelines for health

There are exercise guidelines that aim to promote health and reduce the occurrence of clinical conditions. As a FITPRO we should promote clients to meet the minimum of these exercise guidelines. However, your client cannot go from doing zero exercise in week 1, to meeting the guidelines in week 2. You will need to create incremental goals and programme gradual progression that is sustainable.

The guidelines are:

  • 150 mins of moderate activity every week (can be split into 10 -30 minute chunks)
  • 2 sessions of resistance training per week
  • Include flexibility and coordination exercises 5-7 times per week

Exercise Considerations for Obese Clients

Even when fully qualified there are specific exercise considerations that need to be adhered to when working with obese clients. These exercise guidelines manage the safety of the client and mitigate the risk of client injury, discomfort, heart attack, or stroke during the exercise session.

  • Encourage health-related activity guidelines
  • Consider Range Of Movement, and adapt exercises to within comfortable ranges
  • Become aware of postural compensations and mal-alignment, then choose appropriate regressed exercises to correct the alignment and encourage safe exercise.
  • Draw attention to gait, consider that large fat accumulations can disturb the walking and running gait, therefore loads are not distributed in a normal way through joints. This means that running is not appropriate or mort obese clients and can cause further damage to joints.
  • Avoid impact exercises that cause additional pressure on joints.
  • Consider client footcare to avoid blisters and sores that may have issues healing, especially if they also have type 2 diabetes.
  • Focus on fall prevention, by activating the core and glutes. Improve overall Agility, Balance, and Coordination.
  • Be mindful of temperature regulation, avoid overheating and keep the client well hydrated.
  • Also factor-in other conditions (that will also have a list of considerations) and consider all medications and side effects.
  • Consider that some obese beginner clients may struggle with confidence, and fitness levels and lack experience in a gym environment. Adapt for this by opening up a conversation of what is best for them, and then start at the most regressed option so as to build client self-efficacy first.

To summarise:

There are a lot of exercise considerations for obese clients. Without a proper understanding of these considerations, it is easy to cause unintentional harm to the client, putting them at risk of injury, heart attack, stroke and more.

It is important to be adequately qualified to work with the clients you want to work with and carefully plan for their individual needs. If you want to specialise in working with Obese clients check the link below to find out more.

Test your knowledge with three mock questions:

[NOTE: The answers are below the 3rd questions]

Q1: What is the BMI classification of an obese client?

A. 25 +
B. 18.5-24.9
C. 30 +
D. 50 +

Q2: Which is NOT considered an exercise guideline for healthy living?

A. 150 mins of moderate activity per week
B. 20 mins of vigorous cv training per week
C. 2 resistance training sessions per week
D. Regular flexibility and coordination work

Q3: Which qualification is required to work with obese clients?

A. Level 3 Personal Trainer
B. Level 2 Indoor Cycling
C. Level 3 Yoga
D. L3 Diploma in Supporting clients with Long Term Conditions

Answers to the mock questions are :

Question 1= C, Question 2 = B, Question 3 = D

If you want more mock questions like this, then you can download more Free Mock Questions: DOWNLOAD NOW

Want to become a specialist and train clients with Long Term Conditions?

Become a specialist in offering health-related activity advice and supporting clients that fail a PAR-Q or have Long Term Conditions.

This is your opportunity to set yourself apart from other FITPROs, expand your knowledge, confidence, and link up with healthcare professionals.

Dedicated to More

Hayley “Exercise Considerations for Obese Clients” Bergman

Parallel Coaching

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