Carry that weight: Lift the pounds now to lose them later.

Patients who are battling obesity know that exercise is key to losing weight, but they often aren’t sure whether they should focus on aerobic or muscle strengthening workouts. A new study on resistance exercise and body fat sheds some light on the issue, revealing that lifting weights now will help keep you lighter later.

A new study of 12,000 midlife participants found that those who regularly engage in any kind of muscle-strengthening exercise are far less likely to become obese (regardless of whether they also work out aerobically) than their counterparts who don’t do any weight training at all.

The researchers found that those who did weight training a few times a week for a weekly total of one to two hours were 20-30 percent less likely to become obese in the future. 

There’s no doubt about it. If you want to whittle down your waistline, weights are your friend. They not only help you lose weight, but offer a host of other benefits, from building and maintaining muscle mass, to keeping your bones healthy and boosting metabolism and mood.  

But how do you get started with a weight training regimen if you’ve never used weights before? Especially if you are self-conscious about going to the gym because you are overweight or obese?

Here are a few tips to consider:

•Meet with your health care provider first to determine how best to reach your weight loss goals with weight training and determine if there are any limitations or modifications that may apply to you.

•Investing in some nice workout wear isn’t a necessity but it could make you feel better about exercising. There are plenty of retailers that carry plus-size activewear.

•Start lifting weights at home using free weights, which are inexpensive and versatile. If you want to step it up a notch, a weight bench and a barbell can provide a greater variety of workout options. 

•Follow workout routines online to stay motivated. Here’s a series that offers plus-size positive beginner workouts by an instructor who is on a mission to lose 100 pounds herself. 

•Hiring a personal trainer (in person or online) even for just one session, can be especially effective in helping you learn simple weight bearing exercises and techniques to guide you in creating a routine. 

•Finally, don’t give up on going to the gym. Doing so on a regular basis will help you achieve great results. Gyms have a wide variety of weights that will work all your muscle groups and often offer a sense of community that motivates you to keep coming back.