A few simple exercises can trim away that belly fat.
Okay, so it's not exactly a newsflash that, along with eating a healthy diet, you're going to have to exercise-and stick with a routine-to reduce a muffin top. "It's not just going to go away overnight," says Fredina Usher-Weems, fitness program manager for the Center of Lifestyle Medicine at The Cleveland Clinic.
Along with cardio (Zumba, walking, jumping rope-take your pick) and resistance training, it's important to make sure you are doing exercises that specifically challenge and strengthen your core, aka your abdominals. The good news? Simple exercises can help add some definition to your midsection. Best of all, you can do all of these ab moves sitting down.
If you're sitting in a chair right now, notice your alignment. Bet you're hunched forward, forcing your back-rather than your abdominals-to do all of the work. Instead, start practicing exercises that engage your core while sitting in your cubicle at work or watching TV at home. Usher-Weems recommends these seated abdominal exercises:
* Chair crawl. Keeping your feet flat on the floor while seated, take your hands and walk them down your legs to your ankles and slowly work your way back up.
* Chair twist. Grab a small stack of books (the equivalent of eight to 12 pounds) and hold them with both hands while sitting in a chair, keeping your elbows in line with your shoulders. Twist to the right, look over your right shoulder, go back to center, twist to the left, look over your left shoulder and go back to center. While you're twisting, "start noticing where the work is coming from-it should be coming from your core," says Usher-Weems.
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* Seated knee lifts. Place your feet flat on the floor, bend your elbows and entwine your fingers, holding your hands about a foot in front of your abdominals. Raise your left knee anywhere from a couple of inches to a half foot off the floor, place it back down, raise your right knee a couple of inches to a half foot off the floor and place it back down.
* Thigh squeezes. While sitting, squeeze your legs together as if you were trying to hold a tennis ball between your thighs, while contracting your abdominal muscles. "You can do this at work or in the car at a red light," says Usher-Weems.