Our expert says:
This is perhaps the most common question, even those who exercise regularly. It’s particularly troublesome as we get older, because we lose muscle mass and that makes it more and more difficult to combat the body’s frustrating tendency to store fat, which is really the problem here. Our genes determine where that fat is deposited, which is why some people battle with the stomach, others with arms or thighs.
Regardless of the location, the key is a combination of proper exercise and careful diet. Proper exercise means avoiding the myth that you can spot reduce. That is, there is a perception that you can target specific areas for fat loss by doing very specific exercise. Unfortunately, a million sit-ups a day is not the sole solution. It certainly has a beneficial effect, as I’ll explain, but by itself is not the solution. So rather than becoming pre-occupied on one area, your aim should be to increase metabolic rate – that’s how you burn fat. You do through regular cardiovascular exercise, which includes cycling, aerobics, taebo, spinning, walking or jogging. There are a few programmes to choose from here: http://www.health24.com/fitness/Programmes/16-1347.asp Best bet is always to go with what you enjoy, because this is a long-term commitment, so it does take a lot of time, and enjoyment will really help you! Also, these programmes are home-based, so you don't have to join a gym.
You should then combine this with some weight training. Weight training, which includes sit-ups, is helpful because it increases muscle mass (which has the long-term effect of raising metabolic rate) and because it literally helps create more muscle. More muscle means a more toned appearance. Just doing sit-ups is a start, but you can raise the impact by doing a variety of exercises that target different abdominal muscles. Again, being at the gym makes these easier to do, but things like push-ups, situps, crunches, lunges, tricep dips and squats don't need the gym.
Finally, remember that diet is the great “enabler”. If exercise is perfect, but diet poor, then you undermine your progress. So cover that base, perhaps by seeing a dietician, and get cover all three bases.
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