Loose skin after rapid weight loss can be unflattering and leave you less than satisfied with the results of your hard work and dedication to a slimmer figure. While skin stretching can sometimes be unavoidable, like with people who have lost 100 or more pounds and women who have just given birth, doing the right exercises can help reduce the appearance of loose skin throughout your body. Furthermore, by understanding the causes of loose skin, you'll know what to expect as you work to tighten it.
Understanding Stretched Skin
Your skin is an organ that can stretch to grow with you as you gain weight. Because of its elasticity, it can also shrink back when you lose weight. However, when you lose weight too quickly, your skin cannot keep up by shrinking back at the same rate as your weight loss, so you are left with loose, stretched-out skin. Nutrition, age and skin care can also affect your skin's elasticity and the rate at which it shrinks back, allowing that stretched look to stick around even longer.
Sometimes what appears to be excess loose skin is actually stubborn subcutaneous fat. Since this type of fat is difficult to burn, it is usually the last to go when you are losing weight and can easily be confused with loose or stretched-out skin. To get rid of this extra fat and the appearance of stretched skin, engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every day. Include three cardio sessions a week that incorporate intervals to burn more fat. For these sessions, alternate between periods of intense and moderate exercise for at least 20 minutes after you warm up.
Strength training will not only help you burn excess fat, it will also help fill out loose skin and reduce its stretched appearance. Fill in some of your loose skin with muscle by lifting weights three days a week. The back of your arms, stomach and thighs are typically the areas most affected by stretched skin after weight loss. For the back of your arms, focus on triceps exercises, like dips, to address this trouble area. Abdominal exercises, like crunches and planks, can help fill out the front of your stomach, while oblique exercises, like side bends and side planks, can fill out the sides of your midsection. Compound exercises like squats and lunges can help tone your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings to help your thighs look more firm and your skin less loose.
It takes about two years for your skin to reform to fit your smaller size on its own. While cardio and strength training can help reduce the appearance of stretched skin at a faster pace, eliminating it takes some patience and it still may not go away completely. In the meantime, there are other things you can do to help improve your skin's elasticity and its ability to shrink back sooner. Staying properly hydrated, exfoliating, avoiding excessive sun exposure and tanning beds as well as eating foods with good oils like cottage cheese, seeds and nuts, legumes, beans, tofu and fish will help maintain your skin's collagen and elastin to promote better elasticity.
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