Simple Exercise Tips to Slim Your Waistline

A shorter burst of more intense exercise is better than spending a long time exercising at a low intensity. For example, doing a circuits class for an hour is better than plodding along on the treadmill.

There is a considerable bank of scientific research around that confirms it's just not possible to "spot reduce", i.e. do a target exercise and remove fat from only one area of the body. This particularly applies to the tummy, as a study at the University of Massachusetts found that doing sit-ups alone does not reduce the number of abdominal adipose cells. In other words, it does not reduce your waistline!)

What's required is a combination of cardio exercises to burn the energy stored as fat, and then toning exercises to show the abdominal muscles in their full, sculpted glory.

To achieve the best fat-burning results from your cardio exercise, try interspersing medium-paced periods with short sprints. This form of "interval training" as it's known was shown in a study at the University of New South Wales to be the most effective for reducing fat levels both under the skin and within the muscles.

Try a quick run for 8-10 seconds when you're next power walking around the park or try one length of front crawl between your regular breaststroke efforts, for example. This works by increasing the total amount of work you do in your 20 minutes, thus producing better results.

Toning Your Abs

If you're looking to tone your abs, the exercises below are ideal for working out at home, allowing you to target the abdomen directly for best results.

1. Basic Plank
Start by lying face down on a towel on the ground. Place your elbows and forearms underneath your chest. Prop yourself up to form a bridge using your toes and forearms, maintaining a flat back ensure you do not allow your hips to sag towards the ground.

Hold this position, focusing on pulling in your abdominal muscles, until you can no longer maintain a flat bridge. For beginners, your target is 10 seconds. Rest down, then repeat.

2. The Bicycle
According to the American Council on Exercise, this is the best move to target the rectus abdominis (the "six pack") and the obliques (the waist).

Start by lying face up on the floor and place your fingers behind your ears. Bring the knees in towards the chest and lift the shoulder blades off the ground without pulling on the neck. Straighten the left leg out to about a 45-degree angle to the floor, while simultaneously turning the upper body to the right, bringing the left elbow towards the opposite knee. Now switch sides drawing the right elbow towards the left knee. Alternate sides in a pedalling fashion, for 12-16 reps.

3. Reverse Abdominal Curl
This is a great exercise to target an area that is often a problem for girls rather than guys, the lower abdominals, i.e. below your belly button.

Lie on a towel on the floor on your back with your head resting on the floor Relax your shoulders and keep your lower back in a comfortable or 'neutral' position. Rest your arms on the floor alongside your torso or place them comfortably behind your head. Your thighs should be perpendicular to the floor knees very slightly bent and feet in the air, crossed at the ankles.

Slowly lift your backside, just slightly off the floor. This will raise your legs and feet a few inches higher, but ensure the lift comes from a strong contraction in the abdominals and not from kicking the legs. Avoid rolling your hips backward too much and bending your back. Slowly lower your buttocks to the floor and repeat 15 times.

Working Out Whatever the Weather

When the weather refuses to play ball – as is often the case during the British summertime – it's important to adapt your exercise regime when the weather is cooler or it's pouring down with rain.

While you can do your power walking, running and cycling in the warm, illuminated, safe environment of the gym, it's important to maintain the intensity. Spinning classes are an excellent way of improving your fitness through cycling but also look out for small group treadmill sessions offered in some health clubs.

Don't give up the outdoors completely, however, as research has shown that these are much better for motivation, stress relief and improving mood when compared to indoors. When the nights draw in, shorten your workouts but increase the intensity to get even better results in a shorter time, by alternating short, fast bursts of pace with medium pace.

However, your fitness levels will soon drop if you miss a few sessions.

Just as your body adapts to accommodate your workouts by becoming fitter and stronger, it will adapt to a reduction in workload by lowering your capacity, i.e. your fitness levels will drop. Therefore, it's vital to keep up your exercise routines or all your good work will be undone.

What to Wear When Exercising Outdoors

Layering clothing will keep walkers warm at the start of the exercise. As the body becomes warm, outer layers should be removed before the under layers become wet from perspiration. If clothing becomes wet, it should be changed as soon as possible.

For cold days, start with a thin layer of thermal fabric (that traps warm air but releases moisture) next to the skin, followed by a warm synthetic such as a sweatshirt or fleece.

All these layers should allow perspiration to escape so they need to be non-absorbent and dry quickly.

There are many lightweight thermal garments on the market designed for walking in and whilst not essential, they will help to ensure your comfort.

Gloves and a hat are advisable if the weather is very cold. A lot of heat is lost through the hands and head.

In wet weather, you will chill very quickly unless you protect yourself from the rain. A waterproof outer layer is advisable. Again, there are many varieties on the market. Try to avoid plastic garments, as these do not allow perspiration to escape. This may result in you overheating and will most certainly result in you becoming very wet and venerable to chilling.

How Exercise Boosts Your Immune System

Regular exercise can boost immunity in the following ways:

  • Flushing out bacteria from the lungs, thus decreasing the chance of a cold, flu, or other airborne illness.
  • Sending antibodies and white blood cells (the body's defence cells) through the body at a quicker rate. As these antibodies or white blood cells circulate more rapidly, they could detect illnesses earlier than they might normally. The increased rate of circulating blood may also trigger the release of hormones that "warn" immune cells of intruding bacteria or viruses.
  • The temporary rise in body temperature may inhibit bacterial growth, allowing the body to fight the infection more effectively.

Food for Thought

You may have heard that shouldn't eat after 6.00pm if you wish to lose fat, but in terms of long-term weight control, the timing of meals is not crucial – it's all about how many calories you eat over a period of time.

However, it is better to eat regularly throughout the day and avoid eating high-fat meals late at night. That way, you sleep better and wake up hungry for breakfast next day. If you have been exercising after work, however, you should eat a meal with some carbohydrates in it to help your muscles refuel.

Although all exercise will help to reduce body fat levels, effort is the key to shape changes. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals that exercise at higher intensities is more likely to decrease the hip to waist ratio than lower intensity options. So if you fancy becoming a little more Monroe then try to slip some short fast bursts into your next walk/cycle/swim session.

Finally, television programmes, according to researchers, are ignoring overweight people, even though one in four of the population is now classed as obese. The researchers at Michigan University in the USA viewed 56 different TV series, including Friends, ER and Frasier and found that one in three of the female characters were seriously underweight. They also discovered that male TV characters are six times more likely to be slimmer than men are in real life. This lack of representation could lead to discrimination.

If the article above has inspired you to get in shape, why not book one of our exciting fitness breaks or speak to a member of the Ragdale Hall team about the other options available – we'd love to help.

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