'Love handles:' What's to love about them?
A high percentage of the population in the United States is overweight and sedentary. Frequently, this excess weight is in the form of visceral fat. It accumulates around your internal organs and creates a protruding belly. Being overweight can lead to a number of problems, including lower back pain.
The fundamental strategies for avoiding back pain are regular exercise and weight management.
Like everyone else, seniors can work on their abdominal muscles. Before getting started, it is strongly recommended that everyone, especially seniors, consult their physicians before beginning any type of exercise program. Seniors should begin with fewer repetitions, sets and days per week and gradually increase their workouts.
In order to flatten the stomach, one should first cut down on calories. One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. It's also important to begin a cardiovascular exercise routine. Start out at three days a week, at least 20 minutes per session. Add one day a week every two weeks, until you are doing a cardiovascular workout six days a week.
Let's briefly discuss the major muscles of the abdomen. The first is the rectus abdominis, the so-called "six-pack" muscle. For most of us, it is mostly for appearance and plays an important role in athletics.
The function of the rectus abdominis is called spinal flexion, like bending forward from the waist. The external obliques are located on the sides of the rectus abdominis. Internal obliques are located beneath the external obliques.
In lay terms, the external oblique fibers run diagonally downward from the middle of the rib cage, while the internal oblique fibers run diagonally upward from the pelvis.
The obliques work with the rectus abdominis in spinal flexion. They also control twisting at the waist. In relation to sports, hitting a golf ball or a baseball or throwing a football require your obliques to generate the force by rotating your torso. Obliques also assist when one bends and straightens the body to the sides.
Now that you have a general understanding of this abdominal muscle group, you can understand that exercises that utilize these muscles must be worked to reach your goal of a flatter belly and the reduction of the so-called "love handles." I don't know why they call them that: I don't know of anyone who loves to handle them.
There are many different exercises that can be combined to work such muscles as the rectus abdominis and the external and internal obliques. At the Cultural Center Fitness Salon, we have an abdominal crunch machine that primarily works the rectus abdominis, and secondarily, the external and internal obliques. You can combine this with an incline bench for situps, where we can show you how to work all three sets of muscles. We also have cushioned mats for additional abdominal exercises like toes-to-sky, curl-ups and hip lift.
Keep in mind that although your main priority may be to flatten your tummy, the real goal should be complete muscular fitness.
All major muscle groups should be worked with resistance training. This is also known as circuit weight training, where resistance exercises are performed one after the other.
I'm sure that once you begin, you will be pleasantly surprised with the positive results in just a short time. Your "love handles" will diminish in size and you will find you have more energy for all of your daily activities.
Ted Robedee is a certified fitness trainer and manager of the Fitness Salon at the Cultural Center. He can be contacted at 941-625-4175, ext. 263.