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Losing Weight and Not Strength

– When it comes to dieting and losing weight, one problem people often come across is that they take on a new eating and exercise regime but find their weight doesn’t change or can even increase.

This can be disheartening but in fact can be a good thing.
With the change in the eating habits and the exercise, someone will lose fat but build up muscle. Muscle is 15% more dense than fat so will be heavier. This means simply looking at the scales is not the best guide to your progress.

Clothes will fit better even though the scales seem to tell a different story

The worse and most dangerous kind of fat in the body is the visceral fat around the internal organs, such as around the kidneys and liver. This is the first to go when we lose weight. Although this is not visibly obvious it is the most beneficial result.

If someone tries to lose weight purely by eating less, as well as losing fat, there will also be a loss of muscle, which can be as much as 25%.

About 7700 calories need to be lost in order to lose just 1 kilo of fat. This is why any diet and improvement in eating habits must be combined with the right type of exercise.

What type of exercise?

Sarcopenia is the name given to the way muscles and strength deteriorate with age. It usually starts in the late 40s or early 50s and can affect a person’s physical performance. Without action being taken, a loss of 1% muscle mass a year is normal.

A lot of emphasis is placed on cardio-vascular activity, that is, heart and lungs. This is vital in order to maintain good health and sports like cycling, swimming and running are the obvious choices here.

In addition, there should be resistance exercises several times a week to build strength over the whole body. Muscle strength needs to be maintain particularly around areas prone to arthritis, like knees and hands. Here are a few suggestions:-

  • Walking in the swimming pool with the water up to stomach level
  • To have a better grip, use a rubber ball from a toy shop, squeeze it tightly several times; rest; then squeeze some more. Start with a short amount then build up to several minutes. Make it a daily routine.
  • Pilates and yoga are effective and gentle. Pilates, in particular, is deceptively powerful as many of the positions and moves involve a resistance against gravity.
  • For the legs and thighs, try this:
  1. Lie on the floor, or a firm bed if that’s a problem
  2. Bend the right leg at the knee with the foot flat on the floor
  3. Keep the left leg perfectly straight
  4. Lift the left leg so that the left foot is 10 inches off the floor
  5. Hold for 10 seconds
  6. Relax for 5 seconds
  7. Start with 3 repetitions and build up to many more
  8. Change legs and repeat with the other leg.

Resistance bands are a modest price and can be used for a series of exercises. They come with illustrated exercises.