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Mariah's avatar

Is exercise healthy for people of all body types (see details)?

Asked by Mariah (25301points) July 5th, 2011

It seems like a bit of a no-brainer, but consider this: I’m extremely underweight. To me, it seems like kind of a bad idea to burn off a bunch of calories. But I also feel weird about purposefully avoiding exercise. I’m trying to figure out how best to balance this. What kind of exercise, if any, is appropriate for an underweight person?

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14 Answers

lifeflame's avatar

I would do something like tai chi or qigong.
It’ll clear your mind, get you in touch with your body.
The qi pathways will balance your body, and you’ll gradually build up core muscle.

I’d also consider something like Pilates that would build up core muscle. Or maybe just do something fun like Contact Improvisation. Stretching can also be good…..

Swimming, too, in moderation…

bob_'s avatar

You could lift (light) weights to build up muscle.

Facade's avatar

I agree with @bob_. Even just moving your body without weights or pretending there’s resistance is helpful.

Pandora's avatar

I would think it really depends why you are extremely underweight. If its just an inherited condition, than I would agree with @bob_ . If it is because you are not eating right or because of a medical condition, than I would check with a doctor. I knew a girl who ate like a horse but her whole family was skinny. She was very healthy and would work out to gain muscle.
But I also knew a girl who had a heart condition and was very skinny. Her doctor didn’t recommend any physical exercises because it would stress her heart.
If your not eating right than you may want to talk to a doctor to make sure you wouldn’t cause your body any extra stress.

Mariah's avatar

@lifeflame Thanks; I’ve done yoga in the past and found it very challenging; I definitely wouldn’t mind trying something like that out again.

@bob_, @Facade I can’t do that yet because I’m at high risk for getting a hernia due to my recent surgery, but that’s good to know for future reference, thanks. I have lifted weights a few times in the past; the exertion makes me hungrier and I eat more, so I think the calories burned cancel out. Plus a little extra muscle feels so good.

@Pandora For me it’s a little of both. Before I was ever sick I was already way underweight; my mom looked the same at my age so it’s probably genetic. But I developed chronic digestive problems at age 14 and have been very sick off and on up till recently; now I’ve had surgery for my condition so that’s another monkey wrench right there. I can’t do much of anything now, but my doctors have always said that I could exercise normally once I’m all healed up. But I’m pretty sure they just mean that the surgery doesn’t put any long-term exercise restrictions on me; it’s more of a blanket rule than it is a personal recommendation taking my weight into account, thus the question here. I should probably still bring it up sometime with my doctor.

CunningLinguist's avatar

Unless you have the same condition as this girl, exercise is good for you. It doesn’t have to be intense, calorie-slashing workouts. You can build muscle or stamina in more relaxed ways as suggested by others above.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Judi's avatar

Yoga! It builds muscle, helps core strength and balance and also helps you clear your mind and sleep better.

Seelix's avatar

I definitely think that although you’re underweight, you ought to exercise to keep your muscles healthy and strong. Some of the methods that others mentioned, like yoga, pilates, and tai chi will help you stretch and tone without burning intense calories. Other, simple exercises like walking and swimming will also help.

I’m sure that your doctor will have recommendations on what you can do to stay active once your body is ready for it. I’d also ask for ideas on how to put on a little weight by means of diet, again, once you’re ready for it.

JLeslie's avatar

Make sure you don’t have thyroid problem, which some believe can be triggered by poor eating habits. Are you actually under the weight considered normal for your height? Or, people just tell you you are skinny?

For the most part I think you should exercise. It will likely increase your appetite, and won’t cause you more weight loss in the end. Losing weight is more a function of diet than exercise, unless someone really exercises to excess. Exercise keeps your heart and muscles healthy. Water aerobics, low impact zumba, weight lifting, yoga, walking, all of those, if you just do what is fun for you is a good idea.

Mariah's avatar

@JLeslie Oh jeez, I hope it’s nothing like that. I think it’s mostly genetic/due to my digestive problems, but thanks for the heads up. I am definitely below a normal weight. I’m at about 80 pounds right now due to having major trouble getting my appetite back after surgery, but my “equilibrium” weight (the weight that I tend towards when I’m healthy) is about 90–95. I’m 5’4”.

Once I’m cleared by my doctor to do more exercise, I’ll talk to him about what level of exercise is approriate for me. I agree that the exertion will pick up my appetite and probably offset the calories burned. Thanks everyone.

JLeslie's avatar

@Mariah Oh, that is very thin, even at 95 pounds. Hopefully the surgery will help with your eating.

SpatzieLover's avatar

If nothing else @Mariah you should be stretching to help prevent muscle atrophy.

mrrich724's avatar

Work out and supplement it with a weight gaining diet!!! That would help your underweight “issue” and your desire to work out!

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