Posted by: Maggie | 2009/01/29

strength building without losing weight

hi doc
A friend is learning to swim and she has no muscles/strength which s hindering her learning process. she is HIV + and on meds- she is very thin and her doc is trying to get her to put on weight. her swim instructor who does not know her status wants her to walk to strengthen her leg/hip muscles. i offered the use of my treadmill. My question is - how can she strengthen her leg/hip muscles which would improve her endurance without losing weight which her HIV specialist will not be happy with?

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Our expert says:
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Hi Maggie

Difficult one. I think any exercise she does will help, given that she's probably coming off doing nothing before. So using the treadmill for a day or two a week is helpful.

The danger is doing too much too soon, and that's something there's no formula for. Maybe she'll manage 30 minutes walking a day, maybe she won't. You'd have to see through trial and error and work out an acceptable starting level. Once you have that, then gradual, consistent progress is the key.

Then I think one or two leg exercises might be helpful, but I'm loathe to prescribe them without any knowledge other than your question. So again, this is a guide, which you must use to determine what she can manage, but I would say that squats, lunges and calf raises are probably good to do. I'd err on the side of caution and say that she should do maybe 20 squats, 10 lunges on each side, and 10 calf raises the first time and see how that goes. If she manages, then it can be increased. If not, decrease. And work out what's doable.

Good luck

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