According to the World Health Organisation, obesity or being overweight is defined as "abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health”.

One in two people suffers from being overweight or obese today. However, we now know that being obese carries the risk of developing diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

In addition to being a lifetime risk, obesity is also a physical and psychological disability. In the last twenty years, sports coaching as treatment has become more and more popular as a way to lose weight and fight other chronic diseases.

2 in 3 people are overweight in the UK
Obesity is on the rise in the UK, reaching dangerous new levels each year. Photo credit: Tobyotter via

Sport and exercise does not make you lose weight per se, but it results in a high energy expenditure that can burn excess calories, eliminate toxins, build muscle and slim you down.

Doing regular physical activity is therefore an essential component to a healthy lifestyle and a successful weight loss program.

So how can we overcome obesity? By seeking the expertise of a personal trainer - someone who is committed to helping their clients get healthy and lose weight!

In this article, Superprof will show you all the tricks for overcoming obesity.

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Obesity: What’s the current situation in the UK?

The number of people affected by obesity in the UK is steadily increasing, to the point where it is now referred to as a pandemic.

Before going into the statistics, let's define what we're talking about. We distinguish between overweight, obesity and morbid obesity.

In order to assess patients' physical health, physicians use body mass index (BMI), which refers to the ratio of total body mass to height.

According to the WHO classification, a BMI of between 25 and 30 indicates that a person is overweight. Between 30 and 35, they are in moderate obesity. Obesity is high between 35 and 40. Finally, with a BMI of 40 or over, a person is classed as morbidly obese.

In the UK, two thirds of adults, a quarter of 2-10 year-olds and one third of 11-15 year olds are overweight or obese.

Looking at these proportions, it is expected that by 2034, 70% of the adult population will be overweight or obese. It’s clear to see why Britain has been branded ‘the fat man of Europe’!

There is often a caricatured image of overweight or obese people when we talk about the United States, but with two thirds of adults in England being overweight, we aren’t much better!

Looking at the sociology of obesity, we can see that it’s a disease that mainly affects the less qualified and the working classes.

On the other hand, it’s the more intellectual and educated professions who are better paid who can optimize their diet, health and exercise practices.

So obesity is therefore a disease linked to poverty, a marker of social inequality: lack of money and other such deprivation limit the possibility of a healthy, nutritious diet and regular exercise when we take into account the costs of good food and gym memberships or fitness classes near me.

Obesity is partly related to malnutrition, by the energy imbalance created between the calories consumed and those burned. Body mass increases as a person consumes too many high-fat and sugary foods without physical activity.

But obesity can also have a genetic, hormonal, even hereditary origin.

Bear in mind as well that if BMI is above 30, following a personal training plan can prevent cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, certain cancers and musculoskeletal disorders.

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The Benefits of Exercise When Tackling Obesity

Don't let obesity be a prison sentence!
A personalised training programme could turn your life around completely! Photo credit: Sole Treadmill via Visual Hunt

Being diagnosed with obesity isn’t a prison sentence – in fact it’s possible to completely overcome obesity and return to a healthy, normal size. But how can this be achieved?

By being more active! With hard work, determination and motivation, you’ll start seeing a difference fast.

Any weight-loss programme needs to be adapted to the individual, based on their own goals, weight and physical capabilities. Which is why personal training works so well!

Make sure you seek medical advice before starting your personal training, your doctor will be able to advise you on what exercise you can do safely to avoid any stress or injury.

Exercising for weight loss doesn’t mean training like an athlete, you will simply start following a tailor-made program set up by a qualified and experienced trainer.

By doing more exercise on a regular basis, the body is forced to burn its previously accumulated energy surplus. It’s estimated that the energy a person uses each day increases by 30% if they exercise regularly.

There are so many benefits of doing regular physical activity, for example:

  • Burning calories
  • Engaging muscles and helping to fight cellulite
  • Eliminating toxins
  • Strengthening and toning the body
  • Improving health and physical fitness
  • Looking and feeling great
  • Becoming more mobile
  • Increasing stamina, reducing breathlessness
  • Building self-confidence
  • Maintaining a stable weight

But what kind of exercise will work for you? Here are some activities that are proven to help you lose weight:

  • Walking and hiking to strengthen your body
  • Jogging to build up stamina
  • Dancing or swimming to refine the entire body
  • Soft gym exercises: abs, buttocks, thighs, arms
  • Some gym equipment such as cross-trainers and treadmills
  • Rowing or weight training with dumbbells

Exercise is such great treatment for obesity because muscle gradually builds to replace fat, and the immune system gets stronger.

But be careful – exercise alone isn’t enough!

Weight-loss coaching must also act on a nutritional level by implementing a health and balanced diet to work alongside the physical activity.

Once you start moving into a healthy BMI category through a healthy diet and regular exercise, you’ll start feeling revitalised and full of energy!

5 Steps You Can Take to Overcome Obesity

Lose weight by making small changes every day
Make small yet effective choices for a more active lifestyle! Photo credit: laverrue via Visualhunt

Superprof is putting itself in a personal trainer’s shoes to show you the five stages of fighting obesity with a personal programme.

  1. Adapting Effort to Your Fitness Level

In order to achieve successful weight loss results, you need to set reasonable goals. It’s better to take it slow when it comes to physical activity and build up steadily, and not to push yourself too hard.

It's easy to assume that an obese person who wants to slim down quickly should double their efforts and really push themselves. But if they’re not physically up to that level of training, this kind of exertion can cause serious joint pain and injury.

This is where personal training will help: it is perfectly adapted to a person’s capabilities, and will build up effort gradually to reach long-term goals.

  1. Walk and move every day

Avoiding sedentary activities is the key to a successful slimming programme. Whenever possible, opt for walking over using the car or public transport when going to work or the shops. This allows for gentle exercise and toning.

Walking is an easy activity that can burn up to 350 calories per hour, whereas sitting still will only burn around 100. So walking is over three times more effective!

Experts recommend that you start with at least half an hour of walking per day, gradually increasing up to one hour a day of walking at a steady pace.

Try to avoid sitting down too much: in a seated position, it’s estimated that you’ll only burn about 100 calories an hour.

In order to build up muscles you have to get them working! This will gradually start to burn fat and turn it into muscle, and it will also reduce the appearance of cellulite.

  1. Find some active hobbies

Doing fun physical activity is the best way to burn calories, as it engages your body as well as your mind!

It can really be anything you like, for example taking care of your vegetable garden and your flowers gets your body moving! Gardening can burn between 300 and 450 calories per hour, which is even more than walking.

You might find a new love for dance, Zumba or martial arts, for example, which you can find classes for in your local area. Opt for positive and enjoyable activities that get your body working hard.

  1. Exercise two to three times a week 

Your personal trainer will be able to help you find activities which you can fit into your lifestyle.

Just as training in the gym is really important, it’s also a good idea to find a sport or activity that you can do outside of the gym, not necessarily with your personal trainer. With regular extra physical activity about once or twice a week you’ll start seeing incredible differences!

For example, activities such as martial arts or swimming great sports that engage the entire body and will start strengthening and toning all over.

Activities that will refine your figure whilst also building muscle are things like dance, running, cycling, swimming, rowing and weight training.

In the gym, there are all sorts of classes to help you slim down with a personal trainer. Keep an eye out for Zumba, Aquafit, HIIT (high intensity interval training), spinning, kickboxing, weight training, Pilates and more!

  1. Maintain a Healthy Balanced Diet Too…

It goes without saying, the junk food has to go! Regardless of your size and lifestyle, eating junk food and fast food should be completely avoided. It’s crucial to make sure you adopt a varied, healthy and balanced diet in order to stay fit and healthy.

Opt for lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy products and less starchy foods whenever possible.

Personal training is designed to help you gradually reduce your energy intake: this is why it’s necessary to be aware of food groups (e.g. proteins, carbohydrates, fats) when planning and eating meals.

Obviously, you shouldn’t deprive yourself of everything! Diets that are too restrictive or that cut out an entire food group are shown to be ineffective for keeping weight off long-term. Trying to lose weight can be frustrating; fortunately, exercise can also help raise your dopamine levels and fight depression.

A great way to cut back on food and start slimming down is to be aware of portion sizes. Portion control is key to losing weight, and smaller portions of food you love mean you can feel the satisfaction of your favourite things, without the guilt!

And always remember to stay hydrated! Drinking water throughout the day helps to build of muscle tissue and keeps the brain healthy and active.

Alcohol is lethal when you’re trying to lose weight, and it’s best to avoid it if you can. Alcohol is notoriously calorific, and can send your daily calorie intake skyrocketing.

Avoid snacking between meals and drinking your calories!
Drinking alcohol and snacking on salty, fatty foods will impede your weight-loss! Photo via

The same goes for snacking – aim to stick to your planned meals when possible and resist the urge to snack in between. Any sugary and fatty foods or alcohol should be compensated for by extra physical activity and lots of water!

Just as your personal trainer will tell you: for a great diet and weight-loss success, ban the snacking and reduce your portions!

If you find yourself starving between meals, try drinking a large glass of water. Often we mistake thirst for hunger, so get some water down you to keep you going until meal time.

The Risks of Exercise for Obese People

When you’ve been sedentary for a long time and you’re not used to physical activity, your body might not be ready to handle too much exercise.

Practicing intensive sport as an obese person can put you at risk of serious - and sometimes even fatal – injuries and illnesses. So do beware of too sudden or intense training when you’re already not in great shape.

But don’t be scared off! Sports activity will always be beneficial, as long as it’s reasonable and relative to a person’s physical and cardiac capabilities. It has even been shown to reduce the risk of cancer.

Just always start off slowly and smoothly, and never forget to warm-up properly before you begin your exercise!

There are some really serious risks involved with intense exercise for an obese person, such as:

  • Cardiovascular injury
  • Developing metabolic and respiratory disorders,
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Joint pain and physical injury
  • Adopting bad posture
  • Tearing muscles

Being overweight or obese results in excess fat in and around the body and its internal organs. This subjects the heart, the muscles and the joints to serious pressure, and it is these three organs that which we need for physical activity.

When the heart has to work extra hard to cope the risk of atherosclerosis is increased, and this is one of the main causes of cardiovascular disease.

So make sure you take extra care when exercising, and don’t hesitate to seek medical advice for more help with treating obesity.

A personal trainer will help you achieve your weight-loss goals; at the same time, you wil be fighting many of the diseases associated with obesity as well - exercise has been shown to help with diabetes-related problems and lower your blood pressure.

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Ellen is a writer and translator with a passion for literature, traveling and learning new languages.