If you are overweight and want to tone your abdominal muscles, there are several elements to consider. In order to lose weight, Mayoclinic.com states that a healthy diet combined with aerobic and strengthening exercises are needed. The site recommends strength training twice per week and 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity a week as part of a healthy lifestyle. Abdominal exercises can also help to tone and potentially slim down your waist-line. Talk to your doctor about losing weight and starting an exercise program.
Calories are units of measure that denote the amount of energy in food. Your body requires energy to function; you consume food in order to provide fuel for your body. Calories that your body does not need are stored as fat. According to UMM.edu, 3,500 calories equals a pound of fat. In order to lose weight, you must burn off or cut calories. The website also states that combining both calorie burning and calorie cutting practices is the best way to promote weight loss. By losing weight, you can help rid yourself of unwanted abdominal fat, making abdominal strengthening exercises easier and more effective.
MayoClinic.com states that there are many benefits to strengthening your core muscles, which are your abdominals, obliques and lower back. Their website states improving core strength can increase balance and stability, which can help you perform daily tasks more easily. Yoga poses such as plank, side plank and cat-cow will work abdominals and back muscles. Pilates moves such as the swim and table top arm and leg extensions can target core muscles as well.
To more specifically target upper abdominal muscles, you can perform standard crunches. You can also try lying on your back and lifting one leg at a time to focus on your lower abdomen. Pilates provides excellent moves to tone and tighten your entire abdominal wall. The double leg stretch, the criss-cross and the roll-up are easy, beginner-level Pilates exercises. Start slowly and be sure to relax your neck. Try to avoid putting your hands behind your neck, as it you may tend to pull on your neck to complete a sit-up; this movement can cause injury.
Forcing your body to balance can improve abdominal strength, as you use muscles in your core to maintain balance. Using a stability ball to perform sit-ups and crunches can help to combine balance and strength. A ball will also challenge your balance, forcing different muscle groups to work in order to keep your body on the ball. The American Council on Exercise recommends finding a ball that gives 6 inches beneath your weight. Their website states that a stability ball crunch or sit-up targets the rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus and obliques. You will also work muscles in your back, shoulders and legs.
If you are obese, discuss weight loss, fat reduction and exercise with your physician before trying any form of exercise. Most abdominal exercises can be done at home, so it is important to know proper form before trying any yourself. Begin slowly and continue to increase your workload gently. If you feel pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea, stop immediately. Consult a physician if your symptoms do not ameliorate quickly.
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