If you really want to whittle your waist, eating a healthy balanced diet is important, but regular exercise is vital – if you’re not burning off more calories than you take in, the pounds can creep on.
The good news? You don’t have to hit the gym for hours. Staying active in your day-to-day life can make a dramatic difference.
Apart from burning calories, exercise also works to control your sugar cravings. A study by the University of Exeter discovered even a fifteen-minute walk can reduce the urge to eat chocolate. The feel-good chemicals triggered during exercise may biologically dampen our cravings, or it could simply be that working out is a distraction from thinking about food.
Follow these tummy toners
The best way to lose weight is with cardiovascular exercise, such as cycling or jogging, but you can also work your way to flat abs with these specific moves.
- Medicine Ball Heel SlidesLie on your back holding a light medicine ball. Set your lower back midway between fully flattened and fully arched. Lift your feet up and hold the medicine ball straight up in front of you. Engage your abdominals to ensure the mid-point in your lower back is maintained while you slowly straighten one leg out towards the floor. Simultaneously lower the medicine ball behind you until it touches the floor. Return to the start position and repeat, this time straightening the other leg. Perform 1-3 sets of 10-20 reps.
- Walking PlankStart in a plank position with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders, with a straight line from your ears to your ankles. Keep your back flat, without over-arching. One hand at a time, push yourself up into a press-up position. Then, one at a time, return to the elbow plank position, keeping your abdominals engaged throughout, to stabilise your lower back as your torso rotates, lifts and lowers.
- Side Plank And Heel LiftPerform a side plank, keeping your elbow directly underneath your shoulder with one foot on top of the other. Make sure you are not only in a straight line from the front, but also from the side – try not to arch your lower back and poke your bum out. Maintain this position while you lift your top leg up, hold for five seconds, then return to the start position. Perform the leg lift slowly 3-10 times, or until you feel you can no longer maintain good form. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Roll-Outs On The BallPlace your elbows on a stability ball with your knees behind you so that your weight is on the ball. Keep your lower back in a mid-point position while tightening your tummy muscles. Roll the ball forwards so your hips extend, increasing the gap between your knees and the ball. Keep your tummy muscles tight throughout and avoid letting the arch in your lower back increase. Roll the ball out out as far as your can, then back in to the start position, flexing at the hip as you go. Perform 1-3 sets of 8-20 reps.
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This article has been adapted from longer features appearing in Healthy, the Holland & Barrett magazine. Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.