Feeling good and looking good are enough reason for shaping one’s waistline. But apart from psychological and aesthetic factors there are sound health reasons why strong, well toned abdominal muscles are important for us. • Abdominal muscles support and protect some of our most vital organs like liver, stomach, intestines, pancreas, spleen, kidneys etc. Strong abdominal muscles support the membranes that keep their organs in place and enable them to function properly. • Firm abdominal muscles give better support to lower spine, help to avoid or eliminate lower back pain. • They help to prevent constipation and complications of constipation. • Strong abdominal muscles can help in prevention of hernia. In all, firm abdominal muscles can add many benefits to out life. One can build and maintain a firm, flat abdomen by adding a few abdominal strengthening exercises to his daily routine. The exercises are not substitutes, but supplements to diet and other exercises designed to reduce fat.
Before you start any exercise, it is better to consult your doctor. The exact amount of exercise depends on one’s age and physical condition. Do your exercise daily but if you feel stiff or sore the next day you can reduce the number of exercises. Before you begin, measure your girth at the level of your navel with your stomach relaxed. Then pull your stomach in as far as you can and measure it again. Record both measurements. Do this once in a month on the same dates. You may notice improved abdominal strength in a few weeks, but you probably won’t see improvement for a month or more but keep at it.
- Lie on your back, arms stretched over head against the floor, buttocks resting on the floor, knees drawn up close to your chest. Extend one leg straight out, parallel to the floor, but not quite touching it. Draw that leg’s knee back close to chest, while extending other leg straight out. Draw second knee back, while again extending first leg and continue this bicycling movement through four extensions of each leg.
- Standing straight, inhale deeply and try to feel the way your chest expands. Next think of only expanding your chest and not of pulling in the air, just allow the air to come in as you expand your chest. You will find you can expand your chest just as much when the air doesn’t rush into your lungs. Finally, exhale completely, hold the exhalation and expand your chest. If you do this correctly, your stomach will automatically pull in. Then try this exercise – stand straight, feet at shoulder width, hands on hips. Exhale completely and forcefully. Holding the exhalation, expand chest as much as possible. Pull stomach in tight for six seconds, then relax to starting position.
- Lie on your back, legs bent with knees pointed the ceiling, fleet flat on the floor, hands on the back of your head, fingers interlocked. Exhale as you lift up and place head between knees. Inhale as you lower back to starting positions.
- Stand straight, feet comfortably more than shoulder width apart, arms stretched sideward and parallel to the floor, with elbows straight. Keep feet planted firmly and slowly twist the trunk as far to right as possible stretch, pulling right arm back and left arm around to the right. Snap back to starting position and place hands on hips. Repeat exercise, twisting to the left.
- Stand, feet straddled as wide as comfortable, arms overhead elbows straight, hands shoulder – width apart. Rapidly swing upper body forward and down, while bending knees. Reach back through legs, and touch the ground as far back as possible. Swing upper body back to the starting position.
- Sit, legs bent, knees pointed towards ceiling, feet flat on the floor, hands on the back of head, finger interlocked. Lean back until upper body is at a 45 degree angle, twist completely left, then right, return forward to starting position. Do same exercise, twisting first to the right, then left.
- Stand, feet shoulder width hands on hips. Reach over top of head with left hand, touching right ear. Bend sideways to the right, sliding right hand as far as possible down right leg and stretching left side as much as possible.
People respond in varying ways to any exercise programme. Directions by physician is important before starting any exercise.
Dayanand Ayurvedic College, Jalandhar (Pb.).