Walking definitely tones your stomach. Every time you lift your leg and move it forward, your stomach muscles are contracting. If you are purposeful about engaging your transverse abdominis stomach muscle, your stomach will shrink in circumference. You can add a few simple exercises to your walk to further improve your stomach tone.
Muscles Used While Walking
You have three main stomach muscles that tighten when you walk: rectus abdominis, obliquus abdominis and transversus abdominis. They all tighten every time you step forward, therefore, they are being toned. The transversus abdominis muscle, if used correctly, can make your stomach more flat. This is your deepest abdominal muscle and holds your stomach in. Practice using it by standing and placing your hands flat across your stomach. Inhale and relax your stomach all the way out. Exhale and scoop your whole stomach inward toward your spine. Notice that you can hold this muscle in and still expand your lungs to breathe. Hold your transverse abdominis muscle in while you walk and you will not only tone your stomach, you will flatten it.
Add variety to your walk for even more effective tummy toning. Raise your knees high and march, or raise your leg straight up before stepping. Do this march or leg raise for two minutes during your walk. This will specifically work the lower abdominal muscle fibers, beneath your bellybutton. Work your obliquus abdominis, or side waistline muscle, by swinging your leg out and around to the side with each forward step. Purposely walk up hills to tax your abdominal muscles even more. If you are walking on a treadmill, just pause the machine and step off to do the additional toning.
How Often, How Long
Walking three times a week, for 20 to 30 minutes each, is considered maintenance. Walking four to six times a week will give you noticeable results. Your pace is also key to your success. A brisk pace is best. Use the talk test to monitor your pace. You should feel breathless, but if you are unable to talk in short sentences, you are going too fast. Keeping this intensity will hold your heart rate in the target zone that also burns fat while you exercise. As you lose fat from around your stomach, your toned muscles will look even better.
If you are a beginner, start slowly and build up your stamina by walking faster and longer each day. Purchase good shoes to prevent injury and enjoy comfort. Prepare for weather: Use a hat and sunscreen. Remember that your body warms up as you walk, so you may want a lightweight jacket that will tie around your waist if you get too hot. Drink plenty of water before and after you exercise. Walk only in safe, well-lit places. Consider finding a walking partner. Always stretch before and after your exercise. Listen to your body -- you can have an off day and may need to go easy.
- AARP: Walking, The Easiest Exercise
- CNN Health: Secret Weapon, How to Walk off the Belly Fat
- Women's Strength Training Anatomy; Frederic Delavier