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A trim waistline equals fewer health risks.
A trimmer waistline is a goal of many fitness enthusiasts; according to a 2012 report by the American College of Sports Medicine, core-training classes are more popular than Latin dance, indoor cycling or yoga. A smaller waistline has health benefits as well as being aesthetically pleasing. According to IDEA Fitness Journal, core-training exercises such Pilates can help you achieve a leaner, flatter stomach.
History of Pilates
Joseph H. Pilates created a series of exercises during World War I that were used to rehabilitate injured soldiers. After coming to the United States, he opened an exercise studio in New York City. World renowned choreographers George Balanchine and Martha Graham studied with Pilates and sent their dancers to his studio for strengthening and rehabilitation. Pilates principles of centering, control, concentration, precision, breathing and flowing movements are the foundation of the exercises.
Anatomy of Pilates
Pilates called the transverse and rectus abdominus and the internal and external obliques the "powerhouse." Pilates moves recruit the deep abdominal muscles more than basic crunches. Exercises such as The Hundred and the Crisscross have the highest recruitment of the internal obliques and transverse abdominus. A leaner, flatter appearance of the midsection along with a smaller waistline can be a result of exercises that utilize the powerhouse.
The single-leg stretch is one of the 26 Pilates mat exercises. To perform it, lie face up on a mat, with your feet off the floor and your knees bent at 90 degrees. To engage the powerhouse, imagine that you have just put on a tight pair of pants. Exhale, elevate your shoulder blades off the floor, extend one leg out on a diagonal, moving your outside hand to your ankle and your inside hand to the knee of your flexed leg. Your low back should not arch away from the floor. Inhale and then change legs and hands. Exhale and extend your other leg, moving your hands to the flexed leg. Inhale again and change legs. Complete eight to 10 repetitions.
Exercise Tips and Nutrition
Taking Pilates classes can help improve the appearance of your midsection and increase your core strength, flexibility and posture. To see results, begin with a healthy eating plan. Read food labels for fat and sugar content, watch portion sizes, consume foods that are high in fiber, choose water over soda and juice and add fresh fruits and vegetables to your menu. Each week complete at least three cardiovascular sessions, two total-body strength-training workouts and two Pilates mat classes. After six to eight weeks, your jeans should zip up with ease.