I'm very overweight, 6'1, 142 kgs (313 pounds) 36 years of age. I had a work accident a few years ago and never really got active after and then I felt too "big" to exercise but I want to fight that mentality.

Other issues: I also have asthma and I find sometimes that causes issues.
I have achilles tendinitis that can flare up occasionally. When I ran today, the balls of my feet hurt the most, and now as I sit, I feel sore all over (which I can work through).

I tried to run today at a track (just got a membership) and the most I was able to run was 200 metres without getting winded/feet aching beyond tolerance. I ended up alternating 200 metres jogging, then running, so I ended up doing 2000 metres at 26 minutes.

I have a goal of being able to run 4k in 20 minutes to start. Will it be possible for someone in my situation to be able to do this say in 90 days? What are some of the things I have to look at to prevent injury, etc?

Finally, I don't know how to swim but I'm learning. Will swimming as an exercise improve my ability to run longer distances? I have a friend in my swim class who runs 15km every morning but he gets winded very quickly swimming.. will the same hold true in reverse?

I've looked at questions such as: What should i do to run 6 miles in 1 hour

Edit: I'm going to keep track of my daily runs and will try to record my daily caloric intake as well.

Edit 2: I mentioned this in a comment but I figured I'd put it up here as well: This is the inspiration behind this effort: http://www.seattletimes.com/sports/seahawks/marshawn-lynch-saved-my-life-how-a-380-pound-man-went-beast-mode/

At 3 o’clock that morning, Jake ran about a tenth of a mile, walked another four tenths, and said he felt like he was going to die. The next day, he watched the interview another 30 times and did the same thing.

A couple weeks later, he could jog the full half-mile without stopping. A couple months after that, he completed a five-mile race.

Edit 3: Went for my second run. The pain on the outside of my feet is worse than the fatigue itself. Will try to get better running shoes (currently using Asics Duomax). However I do know that I have wide flat feet so I'm not sure what good selection there is for this.

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    First off, I would recommend that you talk to your doctor first. When you're severely out of shape, you face some obstacles to exercise that most people don't, and they should be able to help guide you to options that don't lead to injury.
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 2:38
  • As a side note, I referee soccer in the summers. It's a decent workout, a lot of stops and starts, but it doesn't help me improve my overall cardio ( I referee or assist referee roughly 2-3 90 minute matches a week in the summer). Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 2:41
  • ^_^ I used to do that too. YMCA? Yeah, especially if there's more than one referee, there's really not that much prolonged running involved in that.
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 2:50
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    Rowing machine and exercise bike are definitely good ideas as you can work on cardio without putting too much pressure on your feet.
    – John L.
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 10:45
  • I'll second John L.'s comment here. As a runner myself, I ended up getting a lot of strain injuries (achilles tendon, plantar fasciitis, etc) when trying to run after putting on some pounds. And running is already hard enough on the joints as it is when you are not overweight. Rowing, bike or even roller blade is a better idea to get some cardio. For the weight loss, physical activity helps, sure! But it's the diet that drives it. Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 15:38

6 Answers 6


If you're trying to lose weight my suggestion is to focus on your diet. Focus on eating less calories than you are expending and you will lose weight.

Exercise is great for your health but will do little (relative to dieting) for your weight. Since you're just starting to exercise I suggest not trying to do too much too soon as it may result in injury and frustration which could cause you to want to or have to stop exercising.

To start with just walk. Go for a walk every single day. Start off slow and easy, just a short 10 minute walk or whatever, but slowly increase speed and duration until you are doing an hour or so walk. Once you can walk at a relatively decent pace for an hour without getting too tired then you should look at more intensive exercises such as swimming and running, also some strength exercises would be good.

The point of walking every day isn't so much to give a decent workout but to form a habit of exercising. Once you've developed the habit it's far easier to progress with more challenging workouts.

  • Thank you. My goal is more to gain cardio than to lose weight (but that would be a nice side effect!). I eat a lot of bread so I'm going to cut that out for a month to see how it goes. Something that I should have mentioned is that I've been walking an hour every other day for the past month or so (basically walking to work instead of the car). I don't get winded walking (as long as it's not steep). Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 2:49
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    okay it sounds like you've already progressed further than what I wrote about. You seem to have the habit and an ok fitness level. I would highly recommend swimming especially to someone with asthma. It will improve your running abilities slightly but it's excellent for your heart and lungs. The moist warm air is better for people with asthma which is why doctors will often recommend it to people with this condition. Just keep pushing yourself more and more with your runs and swimming and you'l improve. Depending on the severity of your asthma you should be careful and perhaps consult a doctor
    – Aequitas
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 3:03
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    @StackOverflowed With 6'1, 142 kgs you're roughly 50kg overweight, so I'd definitely focus on your diet and cutting calories. Exercise is not a fix for too many calories going in.
    – Nic
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 9:34
  • @Nicholas yes I completely agree especially after hearing op is relatively quite active. The best thing would be to try to lose weight through dieting while maintaining or slightly increasing the level of exercise. Not to mention losing fat will increase physical performance as well as improve the "too big to exercise" mentality. As well as decrease risk of injury from high impact exercise while overweight
    – Aequitas
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 10:32
  • This is actually my inspiration in this undertaking: seattletimes.com/sports/seahawks/… Guy just woke up and started to run. Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 10:45

I agree with the first comment to your question, check with a doctor first and get a checkup (gotta make sure your body can handle the stress of exercise).

Assuming you are OK'ed by the doctor, 4k in 20 minutes within a 90 day timespan seems quite impossible. However, I have no idea about your past physical fitness but given the asthma and other problems I can only assume. Personally, I weighed about 120KG when I started running (no health/physical ailments) and my time for 4k was about 30~40 minutes depending on my drive to run faster. So getting to 20 minutes may be a long term goal for you. As others have said, start with walking (you gotta walk before you can run).

As for avoiding injury, make sure to warm up and cool down after working out. Make sure to stretch before and after any work out (tight muscles hurt during a workout and muscles that tighten up hurt after a work out). My suggestion is to get a pair of shoes for walking/running that are either the "wide" version of a shoe you like or get a shoe you like in a slightly bigger size (half sizes if you are in the USA). A slightly bigger shoe will allow your feet room to swell while walking/running and may make your work outs less painful (but if the slightly bigger one is too roomy just get the size that fits you).

Swimming is easy on the knees but it is a different kind of cardio that uses muscles in a different way so swimming faster won't equal running faster. I would suggest trying different kinds of cardio to find the one that works with your level of mobility. Rowing machine, swimming and spinning bike are all easy on the body cardio (in my opinion).


I think that the best thing for you to do would be to start off slow. Just try to do a small amount of cardio once a week for 30 minutes or so (you can run anywhere!). It doesn't matter how far you go for now you just need to change your current habits and get in to a routine (easier said than done, I know).

Once you feel comfortable with doing that on a regular basis and have started to bring your diet back on track then, and only then should you start increasing the amount of time that you are exercising for. Consistency is key. Diet is also key. Good luck!


As others have said, start off slow. You didn't gain 150 lbs in a few months, you aren't going to lose 150 lbs in a few months. You will have ups and downs, and your losses will be disproportionately greater in the initial phases of your workouts than they will later on.

As others have said, get the doctor's OK first.

Start slow. If you really want to get into running, make sure you have new shoes that fit well. That can cause just as much grief as your weight can. Old, broken down shoes are one of the biggest contributors to injuries as much as overwork. My recommendation is to find something to do that you enjoy. If you enjoy it, you are much more likely to keep on doing it. Repetition is the name of the game, being able to do the work day in and day out. That also goes back to the start slow. Everyone seems to thing that if you don't have soreness, you didn't work hard. Horsepuckey. If you work so hard that the next day you can't do anything, you're losing ground not gaining it.

Calories are king. Various studies (One of my answers has links to them, I can dig them up if needed) show that the type of diet doesn't really matter, it is calorie reduction that produces results. Your comment about bread is a little misguided. Cutting out entire chunks of a diet isn't really productive. If you like bread, go ahead and eat it. Just don't eat as much of it. And, with your diet, just like with the exercise, go slow. Don't say "Tomorrow I start eating Paleo" or whatever. Instead, tomorrow say "I will replace one of my bad snacks with some fruit and nuts." Do that for a week. Then make another small change.

Figure out some realistic goals, and write them down. Make some 6 month, 1 year and 3 year goals. Then figure out the steps needed for each one. Say your 1 year goal is to lose 50 lbs, and be down to 260. Your 6 month goal would be to be working out consistently for four days a week. Your diet goal is to be eating 75% healthy foods. Etc, etc. Figure out SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time limited) goals to where you can make small, consistent changes towards a bigger goal.

And, don't get locked into any one activity. Try a bunch. See what you like to do, and just as important, who you like to do it with. If you like the activity, and you have friends that do it with you (or you make new friends in that activity), they will encourage and support you. That's another big element. If you don't enjoy the activity, or you don't like who you do it with, you are much more likely to abandon the program. If you like cycling, great, go ride. If you like gymnastic badminton, have at it. You're not earning a living at it, so enjoy it.

Make a good plan, stick to it, and keep your eye on the final prize, you'll get there faster than you think and will enjoy it more than you thought.


From your post you seem to focus a lot on running distance and time as measure of achievement. You should absolutely set yourself a goal to help your motivation, but I would advise you more caution in the beginning phase, to avoid injuries which are only going to set you back.

As an athlete, I've learned that the most important alarm bell you should never neglect is pain. In your case, your feet pain and past achilles tendinitis are two warnings that you should be careful.

To avoid feet pain, go to a specialized running shop and have your feet measured so that they can advise you on shoes matching your foot arch. Properly fitting shoes are important for your health and comfort, so go for the best you can afford.

For your achilles tendons, it's important to warm up properly (as said in a previous post) and to stretch gently. It's also very important to tone up your lower leg muscles as they are probably not used to the strain they are being put under. The best way is to start by walking longer distances, and then try walking on unpaved/uneven terrain, and up hills and stairs. You can then start running short distances, while allowing your body to recover a few days in between runs. As you get fitter, you can increase your mileage and decrease your recovery time between runs.

To get fit faster, you can alternate with other types of exercise, allowing your running-specific muscles to recover while still working on your general fitness. Improve your swimming as it is one of the gentlest form of cardio exercise on your body. It won't tone your legs muscles to make them good at running, but it will help you get fit faster, which in turn will improve your running. You could also go biking for a good leg workout. A rowing machine is also great, it will strengthen your legs and tendons, and give you a full body workout.

Good luck!


First, ensure you get enough sleep, at regular times. Eg go to bed every night at 10pm, wake up at 7am. Exactly when you go to bed and how long you sleep will depend on your body.

Second, fix your diet. Exactly what diet is best will depend on your body and it's reaction. If you have trouble with hunger and/or blood sugar levels dropping, you might want to consider a ketogenic type diet (high fat, moderate protein, very low carbohydrate) for at least the short term. Unless low fat, calorie restricted diets actually work well for you in terms of both efficacy and compliance (which I'm guessing they don't, otherwise you wouldn't be in this situation - they don't work well for most people), then a low carbohydrate diet is probably a good option. The key is that everyone responds differently to diet, so you need to work out what works for you. Sadly medical professionals are generally pretty bad at doing this.

After diet is sorted, you should lose weight fairly quickly. Once you've got to a weight where you feel comfortable exercising, then introduce exercise. You may need to alter your diet once you introduce exercise.

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