How do I get in shape *without* losing weight?
April 6, 2005 1:28 PM   Subscribe

I need an excercise plan that won't make me sexy! Weight loss not needed.

I've gotten more sedentary lately — my commute's too long to bike now, and a dodgy knee has kept me from enjoying dancing — and sure enough I'm starting to feel out of shape. Looks like I need to start making a point of working out. I've never had to do that before, and I have no clue where to start.

The problem is, most of the workout information I've seen is for people who want to get thinner or beefier or more "toned." I'm skinny already — according to my last checkup, if I get any thinner I'll be underweight. And I don't want rippling muscles or washboard abs or whatever. I just want to climb stairs without getting winded. Do they even make workout guides for people with no body image problems?
posted by nebulawindphone to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I just want to climb stairs without getting winded.

What I suggest doing, then, is climbing stairs. Seriously. Or walking up hills.
posted by kindall at 1:34 PM on April 6, 2005

An elliptical trainer will be easy on your knee.
posted by o2b at 1:42 PM on April 6, 2005

Well, if you have a bum knee I would advise against climbing stairs, or hills.

Get a bike?
posted by remlapm at 1:43 PM on April 6, 2005

If you are skinny, getting "toned" would help since you need muscle tone. Building endurance (for you to not get winded) is done through cardio. Combining cardio (running, etc.) with weight training would allow you to build endurance as well as muscle so you don't get skinnier. I can also suggest learning how to work on an erg (rowing machine) properly. This can build muscle tone for the entire body as well as endurance, and is easy on all the joints.

Also, I've been underweight all my life and it's not that much of a drag. I have rowed in the past and currently do ashtanga yoga.
posted by scazza at 1:43 PM on April 6, 2005

Swimming would give you low impact, but help to build your "wind."
posted by AllesKlar at 1:43 PM on April 6, 2005

Walking (if your knee permits it) is actually a good way to get fit and maintain fitness. And it isn't that good a way to lose weight, so you win. Just make it brisk, and shoot for 45-1hr a day. No weight lifting needed.
posted by OmieWise at 1:54 PM on April 6, 2005

Maybe you just don't have enough energy during the day? What's your diet like?
posted by angry modem at 2:29 PM on April 6, 2005

Yoga might be a good solution. It's easy on the knees (or can be with modification), helps breathing, and will make you more overall physically healthy. You can do one with a lot of movement to get your heart rate up and increase your endurance.
posted by jennyb at 2:30 PM on April 6, 2005

As someone who has been through way too many knee surgeries, here is my $.02 (keep in mind I'm a fat toad now who does none of this):

Swimming is a great way to get a better wind without killing the knee as it is low impact.

elliptical's are fairly good and not too bad on impact as are stationary bikes, but at this point we're talking a bit more of an investment.

If you can go for a short jog I recommend finding a park or some other grassy area that doesn't have too many chuckholes as pavement can play hell on the knees. A school with a rubberized track is a good option.

Bottom line for me has always been I hate exercise without a goal of some sort, so once I quite playing football or basketball I didn't give a crap about working out. My suggestion would be to find some sport that isn't ubercompetitve or require tons of equipment and learn it and play that way.

I guess my beef is that exercise shouldn't feel like hard work when you do it, it should be fun when you're exercising so that, while you may hurt after you are done, you will want to keep coming back to play.
posted by Numenorian at 2:42 PM on April 6, 2005

angry modem — My diet hasn't changed, and I'm no expert but I think it's pretty healthy. Besides, I figure excercising is a good idea anyway.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:50 PM on April 6, 2005

In my experience, books & magazines dedicated to a particular sport (jogging, biking, hiking, yoga...) tend to focus much more on the joys of that activity in and of itself (including health benefits) rather than on the end of gettin' sexy n' skinny that more general weightloss/exercise guides do. One good one I read recently was The Complete Book of Running for Women.
posted by insideout at 3:11 PM on April 6, 2005

You'll actually gain weight as you build muscle. Your appetite will increase as you become more active, so just enjoy eating and make sure you get some carbs to avoid weight loss.
posted by Specklet at 3:54 PM on April 6, 2005

You need to do an awful lot of weights training before you look any sexier. Meanwhile, you can lift stuff (and climb stairs) without killing yourself. I recommend it.
posted by krisjohn at 5:36 PM on April 6, 2005

Biking is low-impact on your legs, builds muscle according to the routes you choose, and serves a function as well. Longer and longer bike trips, in which you sprint for a bit then ride slowly, sprint, slow, etc., will build stamina and do wonders for your lungs and heart. If and when muscles develop, they'll be bottom-heavy, so buy some cheap dumbbells for arm strength and do simple pushups and other no-equipment and low-equipment exercises.

Thanks for this thread; I'm in much the same position, except I do want to bulk up some. I know how but just don't bother.
posted by NickDouglas at 5:44 PM on April 6, 2005

You are going to need a goal to motivate the workouts (that's why so many people focus on appearance-related goals, like weight or shape).

Since you're not worried about that, make your goal an achievement. If you're swimming (excellent suggestion) try signing up for an event at some point a few months from now, and focus your training on finishing the event.

You're not alone. A lot of people work out for general fitness, not just to get skinny. You can always use greater cardiovascular health (if you're getting winded on the stairs, then you need cardio!) and muscle tone. These things aren't just for looking good, they're for helping your body run right.
posted by Miko at 9:03 AM on April 7, 2005

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