How to start exercise when I'm so old/fat?
November 1, 2014 11:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm 47, female and very overweight. I've got lower back issues and almost zero cardio strength. How to start exercise from basically zero?

6 years ago I lost 70+ pounds and got into the best shape of my life. Then I hurt my back, it all fell apart, and here I am now, having regained all the weight, lost all my conditioning, and, by the way, got a lot older.

Need tips, blogs, books or other guidance for:
-- starting exercising from scratch
-- being an older exerciser
-- how to lose weight when your metabolism has already slowed way, way down

What I have:
-- a membership to a large chain gym with all the usual equipment, classes and a pool
-- for sure the ability to go to the gym 3x/week

What I won't do:
-- use the large chain gym's personal trainers (in my experience, they don't have enough knowledge to keep me from getting hurt)

Husband is quite interested in an exercise program called "Old School, New Body," but I can't find any legit reviews for it, and it seems too infomercial-y to possibly be true. to accomplish this goal?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have insurance? If so, I'd say start with a physical. Talk to your doc about your goals and your concerns and ask for advice. Ask about seeing a physical therapist for your back issues. I suspect getting your back healed up (and doing what you can to prevent re-injury) will make it that much easier to exercise and make it that much more enjoyable. Does your gym offer yoga classes? That helped with my back issues quite a bit.

Good luck!
posted by Beti at 11:53 PM on November 1, 2014 [5 favorites]

What'd you do six years ago? Of that, what did you enjoy?

I think what matters most is that you find a routine you like/can stick with. I'm personally a huge fan of elliptical followed by weights and stretching, occasionally interspersed with swimming and/or seated biking. I have friends who swear by yoga, dance, outdoor team exercise, outdoor solo running, and so on. If you're not sure, spend the first few weeks trying out in a low-key way all your options.

For starting from scratch, you want to build up slowly and not exceed your limits. Make your initial goal just getting into the gym for twenty minutes consistently three times a week for the first two or three months. If you exercise for longer, fine, but if not, also good. The pattern is the most important part, because once it's a habit, you'll continue following through even when you don't want to. Start off the first week with even less intensity than you think is entry level, and wait to see how sore you are in the day or two after your workouts for the first few sessions to better accurately gauge proper intensity levels. If anything feels wrong in the moment, stop and lessen or end that particular activity.
posted by vegartanipla at 12:01 AM on November 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

how to lose weight when your metabolism has already slowed way, way down

One thing to pay attention to is how the exercise impacts your food cravings. They say that losing weight is like 80% diet and 20% exercise. Some kinds of exercise are way more helpful to me in getting back on a low-sugar food plan than others (low sugar being what helps me most). What worked for you when you lost the weight before?
posted by salvia at 12:12 AM on November 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm a bit older than you and I find the modern notion, meaning over the last thirty or so years, of exercise a bit too much like work. I think it's been commodified to where you need "gear" or have to somehow pay.

Exercise doesn't need to be a regimented treadmill, or worse, stairmaster drudgery. Activity can and should be fun. Take a walk in the park and identify the plants there. Suck at frisbee golf like many of us do. Take up pottery at your local pottery erm, place. Rent a canoe. Take a singing or music class.

Exercise happens incidentally when you are having fun.

Best of luck.
posted by vapidave at 1:16 AM on November 2, 2014 [17 favorites]

Along the lines of what vapidave says there, out of all my uncles and aunts the healthiest and slimmest of them has always been the aunt who is an avid golfer, just from walking around golf courses I think - I'm pretty sure she doesn't go to a gym at all. A few years ago I'd bought a little device with a heart rate monitor just before she was visiting me, and hence was playing around with it and trying it out on everyone, and I was stunned to find that her resting heart rate was half that of mine. This at a point when I was about half her age.
posted by XMLicious at 1:44 AM on November 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

First, you may want to look into physical therapy consultation. This type of scenario, "how do I build my strength and endurance and not injure myself?" is exactly what they are expert at. Some specialize in this and insurance may cover it (call them).

Next, get good shoes for walking. Walk as much as possible. Stretch after, or gently during, walking.

Also get a comfy exercise mat. Do core strengthening exercises (front/abdominal and back muscles). Strengthening these muscles will help support your back and spine (I also have back issues). YouTube is a good source to find some appropriate for you. Plank would be a good one, for example, starting with short (10 seconds) and working gently from there. Obviously consult your doctor if you are not sure what's an appropriate exercise.
posted by zennie at 3:43 AM on November 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Walking is great exercise. Try to structure your day so that you walk where you need to go if that is possible.

I'm 47 and decided to get fit and lose weight about 5 years ago.

It took commitment and focus - I made it my top priority. I counted calories and went for a walk every day after dinner with my wife no matter what. Rain, sleet, snow you name it we walked in it. It was awful walking a couple of blocks at first. We now walk about 3 miles after dinner just to relax and talk. The majority of what you want to achieve is diet frankly so make that the prime focus. Count the calories and get your weight down. Expect it to take about two years.

I didn't start running until I was close to my target weight. My joints are old and achy and I didn't want to wreck them (worse than they are). I did a lot cycling - nice and low impact.

Indoor cardio is a lot nicer if you get a tablet and bluetooth headset so you can watch TV shows that you like. I sometimes motivate myself by only allowing myself to watch shows I really like while exercising. Want to know what happens in True Detective? Better hope on the exercycle for an hour then!

It is impossible to lose weight if you eat out a lot. Stop doing that.

Go really slow at first. The most important thing is to avoid injury. However, don't let small aches and pains stop you because at 47 they are abundant.

I now quite enjoy exercise and find it meditative. I also love how it improves my mood (minor depressions begone!)
posted by srboisvert at 5:02 AM on November 2, 2014 [7 favorites]

I don't know what you think of her, but Jane Fonda has recently done several videos aimed at older people who haven't exercised in a while. I think the target audience is a decade or two older than you, but you might still find them helpful as a starting point. The distributor has made several of the workouts available free on YouTube - search for "Lionsgate BeFit Jane Fonda."
posted by Perodicticus potto at 5:14 AM on November 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

My recommendations for starting out:

1) Get a Fitbit One. Start walking. The Fitbit will encourage you to take the "longer route" to get to places, or to just get up and go for a walk, so that you increase your steps for the day. I am always looking for excuses to get up and walk so that I get more steps on my Fitbit. Walking should come first, so that you ease into exercise and don't burn out and give up. I didn't start running until after several months of walking and using an exercise bike, so that I was already at a basic level of fitness when I began.

2) Purchase a decent yoga mat, a yoga strap (I love the "stretch out strap"), and a yoga block or two. Then get a DVD like "Yoga for the Rest of Us - Back Care Basics" from the library and take your time. Pay utmost attention to what yoga teaches you about breathing - when to inhale, when to exhale. This will help you achieve more and better flexibility and strength, and you'll find it relaxing.

3) This video.
posted by nightrecordings at 5:32 AM on November 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm super excited for you that you have access to a pool! Do they have classes for the pool? There are exercises that you can do in water (that don't require swimming) that will do everything you want to do without causing you to sweat and, exercising in water is great for your back. Commit to doing that at least once a week, possibly twice. Don't worry about how you look in a suit. I can assure you that a perfect body in a swimsuit feels absolutely violated in a gym. A few extra folds are your friend in a high testosterone environment.

When you are not in the pool, find a fun activity that you can do easily. I can't stand working out in a gym so I walk around my neighborhood. There are walk tracks in my community but I'm just anti-social enough that I don't want to talk to people when I'm walking so, my neighborhood is fine. Start off slow. Up and down your street the first day and then slowly build. After the first week, aim for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 in the evening. Drink an obscene amount of water, including mineral water, which will help with the cramps. Walking will also help with the back pain. If it isn't, try a better shoe.

Start taking probiotics to help wean yourself off of the sugar. I have a rule that, if I want dessert, I have to make it from scratch and then share it with someone. It slows me down. Binge on foods like watermelon and frozen grapes. Buy smaller plates that look fuller without as much food. And always, always use butter and other full fat ingredients. Thin people don't drink diet cokes. Diet foods will keep you fat. If it cannot be grown or raised in someone's backyard, don't eat it. Just eliminating fake sugars and processed foods should make you start to feel much better.

As far as the metabolism goes- you can ask your doctor to check your thyroid, but, we are older now. Once I hit 40, it slowed down a bit for me too. But it didn't stop all together. Yes, I can no longer eat an entire pizza and not feel it the next day but really, no one should eat an entire pizza anyway.

If you haven't already, get a DVR player or only watch netflix or amazon prime. Every commercial that you watch adds 10 pounds a month.

You can do this for yourself. Ask your husband to join you in this. His main job is to tell you every day how beautiful you are. Let him do this.
posted by myselfasme at 5:58 AM on November 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Swim! It's low load on your joints & you can build up gently to a really hard workout over time.
posted by pharm at 7:36 AM on November 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

You're not old. Cancel that jive right off. 47 is the new 27, etc and etc, blah blah blah.

You will have more aches than that 27 year old would, but you have three times the discipline and three times the wisdom and three times the snap. Determine that aches are just part of the show. They're going to be part of your life from now on. Accept it. Do NOT let aches determine your life; they're just annoying bullshit, no worse than any other low-level annoyance in life. You're going to move from now on.

I started a yoga practice when I was maybe 54, somewhere in there. I got into outstanding shape, I got into ridiculously good shape. And then I hurt myself. I rehabbed it, and then I hurt myself again. It got me off the yoga mat but onto the bicycle, even riding on the street. But then a string of wrecks, a couple of them Very Interesting Wrecks, have got me off the road, I'm riding almost exclusively on trails, no problems, we have lots of trails here.

But rehabbing from the worst Very Interesting Wreck got my shoulder back to where I can use it, and not just for riding that dang bike -- I'm back on the yoga mat again. Someone upthread mentioned paying attn to the breath aspect in yoga, that it's not some stretching program, that the breath is the point in it. Absolutely correct. This might sound lame and woo but fact is that the breath begins to breathe you. If you find yoga is for you, it can be a real game changer -- it was for me, I'm hoping that I can find my way back to where I was before injuries trashed me. It was the best shape I've ever been in, and it flowed into every aspect of my body.

Myself, I'm a moaner -- moan when I get up when I'm sore, moan when lurching from the couch, moan when I'm bending over maybe, putting on my bike shoes. But that's more a style thing, it's what I do. I still move. Some people grunt. Some people moan. Some people snivel. Some people are silent in their sufferings. I moan. I think it's learned behavior -- my dad was a moaner, to an almost ridiculous degree -- you knew when he was hurting. But he *never* let aches keep him down; he moaned, groaned, got moving, and kept moving. Worked -- a lot, physical labor, volunteer work the last fifteen years of his work life -- he worked until Alzheimer's began to nail him at 81.

I'm sixty next month. I don't have the stamina I had at forty IE can't work -- maybe won't work? -- ten hour days of physical labor. But I keep pushing this crate around, and I will keep pushing this crate around. I'm going to live forever or die trying, those are words that Joseph Heller put into Yossarian's mouth, a credo for me. Anyone calls me Sir, well, hey, if it's out of respect -- cool. But if it's because they think I've probably got a cane or some shit, I'll shove a cane up their ass, or down their throat, whatevs.

Anyways. Find your sport, or your physical passion, and start moving, and keep moving. You're young. The best years are ahead.

Get a move on.
posted by dancestoblue at 7:47 AM on November 2, 2014 [6 favorites]

I would start by just going and moving three times a week. At the gym or elsewhere, in whatever form seems best to you, but don't start off with the attempt to lose weight. I never had any luck doing this when my first goal was weight loss. I'm a little atypical in that even in my 30s I have a bad tendency to overdo things, but scales are just such bad signifiers of progress. The first signifiers of progress are: You are back to doing something with movement regularly, at whatever pace is currently comfortable, for whatever amount of time is currently comfortable.

Get solid with that. Measure your progress then from whatever baseline is "at least moving and doing so regularly" for a couple weeks. See how many laps you can do, or how fast you're walking at your average walking pace on a treadmill, or whatever. See where you are now, don't start from where you want to be. When you see where you are now, wherever it is, make some incremental change forward from there. My joints are relatively good at this point; I jog and do intervals when I can. (I've had some other health stuff impact my ability to do so at times, and I'm still trying to remind myself this is okay.) But whatever it is. Go a little faster, a little longer, a little further. And then a little faster, a little longer, a little further.

I noticed that once I'd been doing that awhile--a month, two months?--other things stopped seeming so overwhelming. I still haven't done anything big, but I've made changes that make me feel markedly better, and I've been able to look at other changes without them seeming impossible. Some people get a lot of good out of something like Couch to 5k, but I wasn't able to make progress at that pace and I found that disheartening at first, but I think that's misleading, because I was still making serious progress over where I had been. Other fitness goals once you are a person who walks/jogs/swims/whatever 3x a week will seem worlds easier than they do now. You feel like you can't do anything, now, so start with the steps that will make you feel like you can do things, and then worry about doing things that look like a serious exercise program.

My metabolism is utterly shot (eating disorders do that, grumble) and I've had to stop and start this several times, but I'm still in markedly better shape than I was when I started this plan, so I feel reasonably confident recommending it as a starting point. And it is just a starting point; it's not the long-term plan, it's the thing that gets you to where you feel confident enough to execute the long-term plan.
posted by Sequence at 8:09 AM on November 2, 2014

I know you know this having lost the weight before, but fixing your food intake is way more important for losing weight than exercise (though exercise is vital for good health!). I see too many friends exercise, exercise, exercise without working on their eating habits, then fizzle out on the whole effort because they're frustrated they aren't losing weight. Walking is a great way to start being active again without hurting yourself by trying too much too soon. Good luck!

PS- bite your tongue with all that 47 is old crap!
posted by cecic at 8:25 AM on November 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

In addition to commitment and focus, I think an important thing is to identify any obstacles that inhibit you from exercising and just eliminate them: if sweat runs in your eyes, get a head band, if you get bored get an ipod or radio or something, if you have trouble balancing or it makes your back hurt to stretch while standing up then stretch while sitting down instead, and if it's a pain in the ass to drive to the gym find things you can do at home or in your neighborhood.

Or conversely, if you don't feel safe around your neighborhood or it's otherwise unpleasant, do drive to a gym or go for a walk at work. Just don't feel like you have to be super hard core or karate master stoic in the face of things like that, you want your exercise to be as comfortable and as conducive of enjoyment as possible. (While still being productive and non-injurious, of course.)
posted by XMLicious at 10:37 AM on November 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

You're not old! My former colleague who, at 88, did a 2-mile hike a couple weeks ago gets to call himself old, but not someone who's barely a year older than I am.

As people who are no longer young, though, we need to take things just a little bit easier than in our 20s and 30s.

First, get a referral to a physical therapist. I had terrible lower back pain two years ago. Two sessions with a physical therapist, and a 10-minute routine once a day, and I have no more back pain and a much stronger core.

Second, find a couple activities that you enjoy, and start doing them regularly. Walking is great because you can do it every day. Other, more strenuous activities require rest. If you're thinking of running, the Couch to 5K (C25K) program is great. Jeff Galloway's run-walk-run approach is kind on older joints and muscles. Cycling is low impact, as are indoor rowing (look at's videos to learn proper form), swimming, and pool running. Hiking is fun, and while more strenuous than walking it still isn't as tough on joints as running.

Don't start off too hard, and ease off from time to time. At least 60% of your aerobic exercise should be done at an intensity where you can carry on a conversation (but not so slowly that you can sing). And it's not a bad idea to reduce your exercise by 25-30% every 3rd or 4th week, to allow for more recovery.

Personally I'm not thrilled by strength training, so I do a minimal bodyweight routine a couple times a week, just to keep my muscles from atrophying. I also use a big, heavy cast iron skillet when I cook!

Finally, as for weight loss: lots of people have had success by keeping a food diary, tracking calories, and ensuring that their intake is less than their expenditure. John Walker's free ebook The Hacker's Diet is a good read; so is Dr. Yoni Freedhoff's The Diet Fix (not free but your library should have it). I have been tracking calories with MyFitnessPal for the last 22 months and have lost 62 pounds so far, 45 in the first year.
posted by brianogilvie at 11:29 AM on November 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I buried my great aunt a few years ago after her death at age 93. She exercised by walking and doing pool exercises at the Y for years. She also had a great life physically and mentally up until age 91 or so. Think about that! You are 47.
She lived another 46 years when she was 47!

Whatever method(s) you choose - best of luck!

posted by Gerard Sorme at 11:57 AM on November 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Go for walks. It's a good way to build some endurance and strength, and it doesn't feel like such a chore. I also find that my back starts to get worse in a hurry if I don't spend enough time standing up every day. And that means not just walking, but actual standing. I can walk 40 minutes every day for a week, then I get stuck standing in a line and after 5 minutes my back hurts. That's when I knew I need to spend more time standing.

Losing weight will almost certainly help your back, so let that be one of your motivations.

Dancing is also much less hideous than other forms of exercise. It can even be fun. Maybe look into bellydancing or something. Any form of exercise that feels sexy while you're doing it is so, so much better than just going to a gym and grunting like an ape while you do the same move over and over.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:08 PM on November 2, 2014

I had a serious health crisis about 14 years ago. I began coming back from that with what I called my "get out of bed more often" fitness program. I had been essentially bedridden for about 3.5 months. So I just began doing more than I had been doing and finding ways to count my progress.

One thing I did: I began parking farther away from the entrance of places instead of trying to get the closest spot possible. If necessary, I napped in my car in between running (ha! -- walking, very slowly) errands.

I have read somewhere that one way to stay in shape is to sneakily add extra walking by just walking more as part of your daily life. Park a little farther out. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Etc. They have done studies on how much extra calories that can burn and how much that can impact fitness, and it really adds up.

But the key to making it work is to find a way to track your progress, because otherwise you just will not notice that you are gradually doing more and gradually having more of a life.

I am currently 49. At the moment, I live without a car and pretty routinely walk four or more hours a day just to get around and do things that need doing. At my largest, I was a size 24-26, or 2x-3x. I am currently able to wear sizes like medium-large-extra large, depending on brand, type of fabric, etc. I still have some belly bloat, which is apparently really common for my medical condition, but I otherwise am in reasonably good shape and look pretty good.
posted by Michele in California at 3:39 PM on November 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

I just discovered a blog and podcast a few days ago, called Fat to fit my quest, women over 40 struggling with weight loss and health. I've listened to several episodes already and it's very informative.
posted by daikon at 4:10 PM on November 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree with going to a physical therapist to find out what works best for you. Finding the right one can be tricky though. Don't listen to strengthen your core, etc if it hurts (as it does for me) - don't keep doing something just because it is standard procedure for everyone else; listen to your body, if it hurts then stop doing it. I personally can't do pretty much all core stuff (even the basics), and even being on my feet too long can hurt (like shopping). So I'm a bit in the same boat. It is a frustrating thing!

I like dancestoblue's comment, though it is a difficult thing to accept. You're damned with pain if you work too hard and damned with pain if you don't move around enough. I know I resist accepting this. Be kind to yourself if you struggle too.

Good luck.
posted by evening at 5:21 AM on November 3, 2014

Really you're talking about two different things.

1. You want to lose weight. This is done in the kitchen; it's all about what you eat and how much. Exercise can even make this harder. Some people find that if they go to the gym and work really and burn off 300 calories, they get so hungry later that they can't resist eating 500 more calories than they ordinarily would have.

2. You want to be in better shape physically whether that means being stronger, more flexible, more endurance, better cardiovascular health, or various proportions of all of the above. Skinny people can be in bad shape and overweight people can be in good shape. "Shape" is really the wrong word but everyone can understand what it means.

They are both absolutely related but sometimes they compliment each other and sometimes they oppose each other. Exercise can make you more hungry or it can hard to build muscle without taking in extra calories (ask me how I know!).

There really aren't many wrong ways to exercise and I think the best exercise plan is whatever one you'll stick with. It usually helps to plan out some kind of regular progress (walking and/or running faster, farther, longer, lifting heavier weights and/or adding reps etc). It's not so much about finding the best program but finding a program that you like and sticking with it. It's really about figuring out what sort of thing you're going to do (weight lifting, running, swimming, yoga, some of each, whatever) and then finding a program that you like. Some of them might work better than others but the difference are usually small so it's better to find the one that you like.

For myself, I had to put a weight set in my basement because I wouldn't go to the gym regularly so I had to remove that barrier and I went with strength training because it doesn't take a ton of time compared to running, biking, or swimming. I just do the big core lifts twice a week with heavy weights for not all that many reps, go back upstairs, rinse off and go about my day. It's about the only thing I've found that I feel like I can stick with forever.

I'm male but I think that a LOT more women could really benefit from strength training with heavy weights. Many of them are afraid of looking like a female body builder but, unless you make weight training your full-time job, that will simply be impossible. Your back injury could be something that is helped a lot by some serious strength training or it might make strength training a bad fit for you. Consult with a sports medicine specialist before you start.

Some other random thoughts.

-You'll get really sore in the beginning, it gets better with time.

-Creatine is a great supplement for just about any exercise program. It's totally safe and dirt cheap. I find that it mostly helps me recover faster with less soreness.

-The scale is just one measure way to measure your progress. It helps me stay motivated if I can measure my progress and I haven't lost a lot of weight but when I started measuring my waist, I found that I was slimming down a lot more than the scale implied.

-If you do strength training, use free weights and stay away from the machines. They don't work a lot of the stabilizer muscles which creates imbalances that will cause injuries. Not only did this happen to me but, when I described the nature of my injury to the physical therapist she said, "You were using a machine instead of free weights, weren't you?" I nodded. "Switch to free weights, they're safer as long as you've got good technique."
posted by VTX at 8:51 AM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

1. You want to lose weight. This is done in the kitchen; it's all about what you eat and how much. Exercise can even make this harder. Some people find that if they go to the gym and work really and burn off 300 calories, they get so hungry later that they can't resist eating 500 more calories than they ordinarily would have.

This reminds me that I sort of intended to say (but forgot) that I think that a lot of overweight people are probably overweight from consuming empty calories and, thus, continuing to feel cravings because their nutritional needs are not being met (and thus they then overeat to try to get some minimal amount of actual nutrition). I have a medical condition that interferes with my ability to properly absorb food, and I thus need 1.5 - 2 times as much of many nutrients as other people do in order to be okay. I did a lot of research and I decided to focus on eating "super foods" that had nutrients I needed in high quantities.

I never counted calories. I never tracked out how much I was eating in any way. I just researched what nutrients I seemed to need based on the kinds of symptoms I had and I learned what foods met that need and how to best optimize absorption, etc. (For a time, I also took tons of supplements, which I am not recommending and should not be necessary if you don't have serious malabsorption due to medical stuff.)

Anyway, yes, I think the losing weight piece was largely a dietary thing, I will agree with that. And I think I gradually ate less as I gradually got my nutritional needs better met. I felt less hungry when I ate nutrient dense foods and, over time, it gradually got better. These days, I simply cannot consume the humongous meals I used to need to eat. Instead of the jumbo sized burrito with extra stuff in it at Chipotle (PLUS chips! and also maybe something else!), I get a single taco or a small cheese quesadilla. I still eat a bit more than "normal" people (who do not have my condition) but I simply cannot eat jumbo meals any more. It's just too much food these days.
posted by Michele in California at 10:08 AM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm in somewhat the same boat you are, at 41 and having a lot of weight to lose. I'm in the middle of my weight loss journey, though, and at this point I know what works and doesn't work for me.

I am someone who finds that exercise is MORE important for me to lose weight than is diet. As such a person, I get pretty tired of seeing the 80% diet / 20% exercise line trotted out. Where did this come from, anyway? Is there any backup in research?

I wish I could find the reference, there is some weightloss guru guy who advocates not reducing calories at all but upping exercise to something like 7-8 hours a week. That is MY metabolism he is preaching to, there. If I cut calories alone, I demonstrably do not lose--sometimes even gain--weight. Exercise, especially high intensity exercise, revs up my metabolism and lets me lose weight.

I think it's important to identify WHY you gained the weight back. Was is depression? If so, focus on treating the depression and finding things that make you feel good other than food. Was it boredom? Focus on finding new activities and people that will interest you. Etc. In other words, it's very very hard to take something away (namely, food) that's fulfilling a purpose in your life without finding anything else that fills that niche.

You say your gym has a pool, and I think that might be a good place to start for someone with back problems. Depending on how you swim, you can get both a good cardio workout and a decent strength workout. And you're less likely to further injure your back. At my gym, I met a lady who was bigger and older than me and wore a pain patch for her back who is losing weight doing nothing but water aerobics 3x a week.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 8:35 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

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