The Best Workout for a 400-Lb. Woman

Running feet

As a woman who weighs 400 pounds, you need a weekly workout schedule that combines aerobic activity with strengthening work and moves that improve flexibility. It's especially important to select safe exercises that gradually strengthen your body while protecting your joints, muscles and tendons. Choose activities you enjoy and because you'll be more likely to adopt them for the long-term.


Walking is one of the simplest ways to start exercising. Measure how many steps you take every day by using a pedometer. Set a small goal, such as increasing the number of steps you take every week by 1,000 to 2,000 steps. Increase your total number of steps until you are walking 50,000 to 70,000 steps per week. If you weigh over 400 pounds, you burn more than 200 calories walking two miles in one hour. Walk three miles and you burn over 350 calories.

Functional Fitness Training

If you are overweight and returning to exercise you’ll benefit from doing exercises that replicate movements you do every day. Functional fitness training involves targeting multiple joints and muscles, helping you increase your flexibility, strengthen your body and keep you safer from injury. For example, doing squats while lifting light hand weights prepares you for tasks that involve bending and carrying. Stepping up and down from a platform strengthens your gluteal, calf and thigh muscles and raises your heart rate, improving your strength and endurance.

Daily Activities

Daily life provides many opportunities to be more active, a key factor in attaining cardiovascular health and losing weight. Turn off your television and spend time gardening or clean the house. Go to the park and play with your children at the playground. Do your errands on foot or park farther from your destinations. As you get stronger, try more difficult tasks such as climbing stairs in lieu of an elevator or try walking over steep hills.

Water Exercise

Exercising in water provides gentle resistance, strengthening your major muscle groups, but protecting your joints and muscles from high impact. Most recreation centers with swimming pools offer a form of water exercise, such as water aerobics or walking through water. Swimming laps provides a more aggressive aerobic and strengthening workout, particularly if you swim a vigorous stroke such as breast stroke or butterfly.


Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Discuss health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or joint problems and take that into consideration when choosing a workout program. To reduce your risk of injury, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends a gradual progression in exercise intensity, frequency and time. If you're new to exercise, start with two or three 10-minute sessions each day. Gradually increase the duration of each session over time and work up to exercising four or five days a week.