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How do I lose weight in my stomach and other fitness questions answered

Athletic weight belts at a gym. Social distancing, no showers initially, pods around classes and exercise machines and u
Athletic weight belts at a gym. Social distancing, no showers initially, pods around classes and exercise machines and ubiquitous bottles of sanitizers and disinfectants are among the features of fitness clubs during the coronavirus pandemic. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Working out during a pandemic has had its challenges, but some of the questions people have remain the same. Here are some frequently asked questions about fitness and weight loss.

Q: Can I build muscle using only my body weight? I’m not going to my gym anymore because of COVID-19 and don’t own weights.

A: Yes, you definitely can build muscle with body weight exercises. Experts say that in order to build muscle, you must challenge the muscle. If you don’t have heavy weights at home, commit to more repetitions. If your goal is to increase muscle mass, try increasing reps with body weight exercises and decrease rest between sets. Research shows that low-load resistance training (light weights or body weight) combined with little rest may enhance metabolic stress and increase muscle size even more than lifting heavy weights and taking longer breaks. Try doing 20 reps at home using your own body weight with minimal rest in between sets.

Q: How do I lose weight in my stomach?

A: While spot reducing isn’t possible, overall toning and weight loss is. There isn’t a magic pill or special exercise that will make weight loss any easier, but there is an easy weight-loss formula to remember: increase physical activity and decrease caloric intake. For example, situps and planks will make your abdominal muscles stronger and will strengthen your core muscles, but endless situps alone will not blast away belly fat. The best way to work on trouble areas is to make consistent exercise a priority and to be conscious of the foods you choose to fuel your body.

Q: How much water should I drink when exercising?

A: Drink one to two glasses of water two hours before and after your exercise session and continue to drink water every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise. Drink more water if you are sweating a lot or if you are exercising outdoors in the heat.

Q: Why do the tops of my legs feel “itchy” when I start walking?

A: If you haven’t exercised in a long time, this may be your body’s way of “waking up.” As the flow of circulation to your leg muscles increases, the capillaries in your legs must expand to allow for more blood flow, causing your legs to itch. These symptoms typically stop after your body is better conditioned.

Q: I’m sore. Should I still workout?

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A: There’s a difference between feeling a good sore and a bad sore. If you’re extremely sore from strength training, avoid using heavy weights during your next lift, as your form and range of motion could be compromised leading to greater potential for injury. To combat soreness, use light weights or go for a brisk walk. Moving your body can help clear the lactic acid buildup and ease soreness. To prevent soreness, try doing a 5 to 10 minute warmup before you exercise and also cool-down and stretch after you exercise.

Q: I’m exercising, but not seeing any weight loss so far. Why?

A: In order to lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than you burn each day. Keep a detailed food journal of when, how much and why you’re eating. Try not to reward yourself with food and monitor your “cheat days.” Even if you don’t see a sudden weight loss, your body is reaping great rewards from exercise. Staying healthy and fit is especially crucial right now to help keep your immune system strong in order for your body to best fight coronavirus. Consistency is key to seeing results. You can do it — keep at it.

Kylie Alger is a certified wellness coach and co-owner of the Well-Woman: Body, Mind & Spirit. Comments: kylie@thewellwoman.org

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