A week or so ago, I wondered why some, although not all, mature people get bigger around the midriff. Me in particular. I've always been slim, and have delighted in the appearance of my flat belly for most of my adult life—barring pregnancy and the aftermath. Oh how things change. I'm still eating healthy food, and not too much of it. I exercise as much as I am able, which isn't a great deal because of pain in my replaced hips. I make sure I take a daily walk, albeit with the aid of a rollator which gives me confidence and support. And yet, my elf-like figure has changed. Now, I'm more like a gnome with slim arms and legs. Mrs. Potato Head.
Something needs to be done. To put the sentence in a more active way: I need to take action.
For all of you who could cry when you look at yourself side-on in the mirror, I'll share what I've learned.
Livestrong have posted these helpful hints for anyone whose body has expanded or sagged.
I've used Livestrong's hints here along with my own remarks. They say that when women grow older, lack of exercise and fluctuating or disappearing hormone levels can cause the waistline to expand and the tummy to protrude.
Yep. That's what's happened to me.
The result can be unattractive, and pose health risks. Belly fat, or visceral fat, can lead to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Nobody wants any of these effects.
Luckily, there are exercises older women can do to flatten the tummy area and strengthen the abdominal muscles. Men: Take note. You need to correct your expanding stomach too.
Balance can be an issue as women age, so performing abdominal exercises while seated or lying down might be a preferable option for senior women. Perform pelvic lifts and tilts to strengthen and tone abdominal muscles. To do a pelvic lift, lie on the floor with your knees bent. Slowly lift your pelvis up toward the ceiling, holding the position for 10 seconds and then releasing down to the ground. For a pelvic tilt, lie on the ground with your knees bent. Slowly tilt your pelvis up and curl your lower back into the floor, holding the position for up to 10 seconds. To achieve results, you should aim to do between 10 and 20 repetitions of these pelvic exercises on a regular basis. I can't work out how to do this seated, and I can't get down to lie on the floor let alone get up again. I'm assuming this exercise can be performed on a bed without a pillow under your head.
As a less-strenuous version of a sit-up, a curl-up is an option for senior women hoping to strengthen abdominal muscles. Lie flat on your back with your knees pointing toward the ceiling. Keeping your hands at your sides with your palms against the floor, slowly lift your shoulders off the floor. Try to do 15 repetitions per day five days a week. According to the National Institute on Aging, it is important for seniors to remember to breathe when doing resistance or strength-training exercises. Holding your breath can lead to dizziness and changes in blood pressure. You should breathe out as you initiate your movement and breathe in as you release the movement. In the case of a person who can't lie on the floor, substitute a bed. Anything's better than nothing right? And remember to increase the repetitions gradually. A few more each day should suffice.
Hollow Out Your Belly
Hollowing out the belly is a gentle way to strengthen and tone the deeper abdominal muscles. Get down on your hands and knees. Use a bed if you can't do it on the floor. Take a deep breath to prepare, letting your tummy hang down in a relaxed position. When you are ready, pull your pelvis in toward your waist, hollowing out the belly. Make sure you keep your back straight when doing this move -- you don't want to arch or strain in any way. Hold the position for 10 seconds and then release. Repeat gradually, as before, until you achieve the movement 10 times.
Using a chair to do abdominal exercises is an option for seniors, especially those with balance issues. A reverse chair crunch is one you can do anytime you are seated, and it is an effective way to tone the tummy muscles. Sit upright in a chair (away from the backrest) with your hands in front of your body and your weight centered. Lean back, keeping your abdominal muscles tight, until you feel your weight shift onto your tailbone. Slowly return to an upright position. Do up to 15 repetitions of this exercise, making sure to stop if you feel any fatigue or strain in the lower-back area. I didn't connect with my tailbone, but I could feel the strain in my stomach. This one seems ideal for me.
I'm going to take action, albeit with due care because any awkward movement can cause me intense pain. Mrs. Potato Head doesn't like the thought of nanobots roaming around her body.