7 Surprising Health Benefits of Losing 10 Pounds

Por Alisa Bowman |

You don’t need to lose five dress sizes to see and feel a big difference in your overall health.

smiling active senior woman for a story on surprising health benefits of losing 10 pounds

Many of us are looking to fit into clothes that we'll probably never need to wear again. But you don't need to slim down enough to zip up your wedding dress to improve your well-being. Losing just 10 pounds, and in some cases just a tiny bit more, is enough weight loss to have an enormous positive health impact in older adults.

"Even small weight changes can unlock metabolic, neurologic, and cardiac benefits," says Sanjay Bhojraj, M.D. He is an interventional cardiologist who runs the Well12.Health metabolic health program. "It's pretty amazing."

Even if you'd like to wave goodbye to a lot more weight than 10 pounds, experts say to focus on the very first steps. If you lose a pound or two a week, you could see all of the following seven health benefits by the end of next month.

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1. Exercise Gets Much Easier

The less body weight you have to move around, the easier it is to get and stay fit. Losing even just 10 pounds can take some pressure off your joints, which allows you to exercise with less discomfort, says Leonard Pianko, M.D. He is a cardiologist in Adventura, Florida.

It can also help you walk or cycle without feeling so out of breath, he says. That can make you more likely to motivate yourself to lose even more weight - if you want to or if your doctor is recommending that you do so.

2. Blood Pressure Numbers Can Drop

According to the Mayo Clinic, you can expect blood pressure to drop 1 millimeter of mercury (mm Hg) for every 2.2 pounds you lose. That means a 10-pound weight loss is enough to drop blood pressure by around five points.

Though five points may not sound like a lot, this small drop in pressure can reduce your risk of a heart attack by 10% percent and risk of stroke by 13%, finds research published in The Lancet.

3. Belly Fat Will Start to Disappear

If we could choose where we drop our extra weight first, many of us would point to our waistlines, which thicken as we grow older. But belly fat does start to go away — even with just a 10-pound loss.

When researchers crunched the data from 61 studies, they found that dropping just 5% of your total weight is enough to put a serious dent in deep belly fat, which is the most dangerous kind of fat for overall health. That's just 10 pounds for a 200-pound person.

Recommended reading: 10 Do’s and Don’ts to Lose Belly Fat
How to Know if You Have Too Much Belly Fat

4. Your Brain Health Gets a Boost

Carrying extra weight has long been associated with cognitive decline and degenerative brain diseases like dementia. But losing just 10 pounds can help your brain work better.

In a study of 81 adults age 50 and older, people who lost an average 2.67% of their body weight (which is less than 10 pounds for many of us) improved their scores on tests of executive functioning. That includes the brain processes that are involved in planning and decision-making.

Recommended reading: How Extra Weight Impacts Your Brain as You Age

5. Your Metabolic Health Will Improve

When you're overweight or obese, your metabolism stops working efficiently. Blood cholesterol goes up and cells stop responding to the hormone insulin, which is known as insulin resistance. And blood pressure rises too.

This cluster of health conditions — hypertension, high blood sugar, and high blood cholesterol and triglycerides — is known as metabolic syndrome, and it greatly increases your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

“If you want to improve your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar, losing 10 pounds can definitely have an effect,” says David Cutler, M.D. He is a board-certified family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

One study of obese people found that those who lost 5% percent of their weight (which added up to an average of 12 pounds) experienced significantly lower levels of blood glucose, insulin and trigylcerides.

Recommended FREE SilverSneakers On-Demand Workout: 5 Exercises for Seniors to Lose Belly Fat

6. Lower Back Pain Can Ease Up

Excess body fat — especially belly fat — can pull the body out of alignment, putting more pressure on your lower back. But it takes only a small amount of weight loss beyond the first 10 to lead to a serious improvement in your lower back pain.

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"I've had patients avoid back surgery after losing 15 pounds," says Dr. Bhojraj. "They went from potentially being laid out for surgery to feeling great."

7. Your Confidence Will Get a Boost

Carrying around extra weight isn't great for our self-esteem. Just getting the ball rolling on reaching your ideal weight range can move the needle toward a happier you.

Dr. Pinako knows this both as a medical practitioner and from personal experience. He recently lost 70 pounds, but after losing just a few of them, he noticed that he felt more confident.

"People are motivated by success," says Dr. Pianko. "When you see weight loss, it gives you the confidence to continue your diet and exercise program. It's a great feeling to lose a significant amount of weight and a great feeling to lose a small amount of weight. Everyone has to start somewhere."

Recommended reading: Weight Loss Basics for Older Adults: The SilverSneakers Guide

See our sources:
Modest weight loss and belly fat: International Journal of Obesity
Weight loss and tongue size: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care
Weight loss and cognitive health: Brain Science
Weight loss and blood pressure: Mayo Clinic
Blood pressure and health: The Lancet
Dangers of metabolic syndrome: Johns Hopkins Medicine
Weight loss and metabolic syndrome: Cell Metabolism

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