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Balance and Strength Training for Obese Individuals

Clark, Kristine N. M.S., RCEP


Learning Objective: To provide an awareness of the importance of including balance training as part of an overall exercise program for obese individuals.

Sally is a 68-year-old retired saleswoman who has gradually gained weight over the past 30 years to her lifetime maximum of 292 lbs. She struggles with balance and relies on a walker or cane to get around. Sally is part of a growing obese population that accounts for almost a third (31) of Americans (1). Very little research has been conducted on the stability and balance of obese individuals; therefore the focus of this article is to create an awareness of how to train these individuals. Generally, a fitness program includes aerobics, strength, and flexibility. These activities are prescribed to help individuals improve fitness as well as maintain a healthy weight, prevent unhealthy fat accumulation, and reduce excess body weight when present. Although not considered a main component of physical fitness, balance training is important for improving stability and should be a part of a training program for anyone – especially those who are obese.

Balance training increases body awareness and makes better use of one’s strength, thus enabling the individual to improve their performance of daily living activities.

Kristine N. Clark, M.S., is a lecturer in the Physical Education Department at North Carolina State University. She also is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist at Duke University Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, NC. Her areas of interest include lifestyle change, functional training, and sports nutrition. She is ACSM Registered Clinical Exercise PhysiologistSM and ACSM Exercise Specialist® certified.

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© 2004 American College of Sports Medicine