Trying to get rid of those last 5 pounds? There’s a simple tip to help appear lighter in an instant: Sit or stand up straight! Sitting up straight, tightening the stomach, and standing with your shoulders back instantly makes you look 5 pounds lighter. Another trick: flexing your arm with your hand on your waist creates a “toned” appearance. Although looking slimmer is nice, what really matters is feeling good and staying strong. Strengthening your core muscles is key not only to looking lighter, but also being stronger.
Here are some tips to help you tighten up those core muscles:
Every hour you sit at your desk or computer, set a phone alarm reminder to stand up. Reach down and touch your toes, stretch up to the sky as high as you can, and do some gentle twists. Try push-ups against the wall, counter or stairs. My dad does several sets a day of 40 to 80 push-ups against the stairs and it’s built up his muscle mass -important for healthy aging. That’s my inspiration! What’s yours? Don’t forget to keep the core engaged!
Engage those muscles while doing household work. While doing chores like folding laundry, washing dishes, ironing, sweeping, or vacuuming, suck in that gut and squeeze the butt!
Use your long commute to your advantage? Every so often, tighten and relax your core muscles while driving. Also, make sure to sit up straight with your shoulders back while you’re behind the wheel. If you take the train to work, choose to stand and hold your abs in while stretching tall.
Try doing supersets (i.e., doing two exercises back-to-back with minimal rest in between) of reverse shoulder rolls and core-tightening exercises with 30-second to 1-minute breaks in-between.
Say good-bye to being a couch potato. While watching TV, don’t slouch or lay down on the couch. Even just sitting upright can be healthier. At commercials, stand up and do a few squats, which work your whole body including the core. Keep in mind even if you exercise at the gym regularly, a sedentary lifestyle after work (if you sit most of the day) will lower muscle mass, metabolism and negatively impact aging.
Use your own body weight to strengthen your core and back. Try holding a plank position two to three times a day. With your forearms on the ground, elbows under your shoulders, and your back straight, lift your body up and tighten your abs to support your back. See how long you can hold it. Start with a goal of 20 seconds without letting your spine curve or your stomach sink. Play around and sway sideways or move back and forth on your toes (while keeping your core steady) for an added challenge!
Play with your kids. Lay on your back with your knees moving towards your chest and your feet off the ground. Lay back, pull your legs into your chest and have your child sit on your flexed feet with their chest on your shins. Press your lower back into the ground and bounce them up and down.
Try out new exercise trackers via apps that help with posture. It attaches to your bra strap and not only tracks your steps but reminds you to sit up straight when you’re slouching!
Create your own strengthening mantra. Mine is “suck in the gut, squeeze the butt!” You’ll find more inspiration if you personalize it or find a mantra you love.
Think about where else you can apply these effective techniques. Activating your muscles in any way is using them, which is much better for your health and posture than hunching or slouching. So put a post-it-note reminder on your desktop or an alarm label on your smartphone and get to started today!
Learn how to set effective goals to achieve the health you’ve always wanted! Check out these articles for more fitness inspiration: 7 Common Fitness Myths, How to Lose Those Last Few Pounds, and 5 Ways to Keep Up Your Work Routine When You’re Busy.
We work with registered dietitians and nutrition scientists to provide nutrition education and healthy eating tips to help create future healthier generations through good nutrition. Melissa's Healthy Living does not provide medical advice, medical nutrition therapy, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.
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