Medical practioners have always advised that it is important for an individual to undertake exercises to keep their bodies healthy.
While this has been a norm to many individuals, the number of women taking part in exercises is growing rapid, but why?
On 23rd Saturday this month in the wee hours of the morning, I was traveling from Thika to Nairobi town, I could see people by the roadside on their morning road work exercises. While this may seem normal, what caught my attention was the higher number of women jogging and others stretching on the footbridge.
In my estimated one-hour drive along Thika Super Highway, I counted around 73 ladies whom I saw either jogging by the roadside or stretching at the Kasarani footbridge.
Amir Magwara, a physiotherapist at the Kenya Premier league side Nzoia Sugar Football Club based in Bungoma County asserts that exercise is important especially to those obese ladies who want to reduce weight.
“Regular physical activity can help keep your body at a healthy weight. Exercise helps people lose weight and lower the risk of some diseases. Exercising regularly decreases a person’s risk of developing certain diseases, including risk of developing obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. It also helps to build and maintain healthy bones and muscles.” He says.
The link between heart disease and obesity is multifaceted. All the yellow parts are fats around the heart making one to develop those heart diseases easily since the heart struggles to pump blood to other parts of the body and the blood entering the heart does not flow effectively.
It is however interesting that some of the women we talked to were motivated to exercise due to other factors, including treaming their flat tummies.
Mary Muthoni, an accountant, tells me that she has always created time for exercise in order to reduce her ’embarrassing’ tummy.
“I have created my schedule such that I have to balance working hours, family hours and exercise hours. I usually wake up early and do some jogging around 1KM and after work in the evening I go to a gymnasium at least thrice per week. This has helped me a lot because at the start of the year, I weighed 96 Killogrames but now I am weighing 78Kg. My tummy is slowly coming back to shape and I am proud.” She says.
Muthoni, however, asserts that it has not been an easy journey and it needs sacrifice and dedication. “It was a tough decision I chose, at first it was difficult waking up early to go jogging, I started with short distances and now I can go over a kilometre (chuckles). For the gymnasium i enrolled in monthly subscription of Ksh.4000/= and my trainer has helped me a lot.
“I also had to adjust my diet and now I totally avoid carbohydrates and take lots of fruits and vegetables”.
Ann Nyokabi, a third year student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology says she started going to the gym to reduce her tummy which she says makes her look ugly.
“It was embarrassing! My tummy was growing big and you could think I am pregnant and even at times I had to change my wardrobe because clothes were not fitting me.”
While it may be embarassing to have a big tummy, there are simple exercises you can undertake at home or the gymnasium.
Simple exercises for flat tummies
Belly fat accumulates between your organs like stomach and intestines. It puts you at a high risk of diseases like Type 2 Diabetes.
Planks, sit-ups and crunches can help burn belly fat.
Belly fat not only looks bad, but it is also a storehouse of many internal problems such as diabetes, heart diseases and more.
The heart of an obese person. GRAPHIC/COURTESY
Belly fat or visceral fat is fat that accumulates between your organs like stomach and intestines. This produces toxins that affect the functioning of your organs and puts you at a high risk of diseases like Type 2 Diabetes.
If you are trying to lose the flab around your waist you have to start by eating a fibre-rich diet. Make sure you restrict sugar intake which includes sugar in colas and cold-coffees. Steer clear of processed foods as these may already be loaded with trans-fats.
In addition to conscious eating, you need to have an active lifestyle. Take out thirty minutes from your busy schedule every day to walk, play a sport, swim or indulge in any activity that makes you move around.
Burning calories is key to reducing abdominal fat. Finally, to convert the flab into fab, you need to target this specific area to get rid of the fat and tone the muscles. Here are a few stomach exercises that may help you to be fit as suggested by CrossFit Trainer, Vinata Shetty.
One of the best exercises that you can do for your core is a plank. It helps to improve your posture by building isometric strength. According to Vinata Shetty, planks tone and strengthen the muscles of the abdominal region and support the spine.
Go down on the floor in the press up position. Put the weight on the forearms while bending your elbows.
Form a straight line through your body from shoulders to ankle, suck your belly button into the spine and hold on the position for some time and relax. In the beginning you may be able to hold the pose only for 8-10 seconds. Don’t worry, this will increase as you keep doing this. Repeat the same five-six times.
2. Side Plank
It helps to maintain proper posture and reduce stress on the spine and hence helps to prevent back issues. Strengthens the abdominal and the back muscles and can be practiced anytime but being consistent is the key here.
Extend your legs and lie on your right side such that your feet and hips rest on the floor on top of each other. Place your right elbow under your shoulder, while contracting your core muscles lift your hips and knees off the floor. Hold on to the position for few seconds and come back to the normal position. Repeat the same on the other side.
3. Sit Ups
Strengthening the abdominal muscles is the advantage of this exercise. Start by lying flat on a floor mat, face up. You can put your arms behind your head or cross them in front of your torso. Now, keep your lower body still and move your upper body towards your knees.
Take a deep breath and exhale as you go up. Inhale as you bring your body back to the mat.
Make sure your arms are not pushing against your head and neck too much. You are supposed to use the abdominal muscles to move up and down, so make sure your neck is not strained during this exercise. Do this 10-15 times.
4. Russian Twist
Sit on a floor mat and bend your knees slightly, your heels should be flat on the mat. Now, start leaning back till you feel that the muscles of the abdomen are engaged. You could also come to this position by lying flat on the floor first.
Now, bend your knees and raising your upper body towards the knees.
You could also come to this position by lying flat on the floor first. Now, bend your knees and raising your upper body towards the knees. You would be creating an imaginary V-shape with your torso and your thighs forming the arms of the V. Hold your arms straight in front of your face.
Slowly twist from one side to the other.
Make sure you are moving with the strength of your abdominal muscles and not your arms alone. As you get better at this exercise, you could try holding a ball or weights when moving from side to side.
Crunches are considered as the fastest way to burn the belly fat and are very easy to do at home without any equipment. They tend to build endurance and power in your belly muscles. Lie down flat on the floor, place your hand behind your head, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground. Lift your upper body off the floor, exhale as you go up and inhale as you come down. Repeat, for few minutes and relax.
Source credit: Priya Deesh, food.ndtv.com