As women grow older, lack of exercise and fluctuating hormone levels can cause the waistline to expand and the tummy to protrude. This not only can be unattractive, but it can also pose health risks.
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Belly fat, or visceral fat, can lead to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease according to Harvard Health. But there are many exercises older women can do to flatten the tummy area and strengthen the abdominal muscles.
Pelvic Lifts and Tilts
Balance can be an issue as women age reports the National Institute on Aging, 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.
Read more: Core Strengthening Exercises for Seniors
Curl-Ups for Abs
As a less-strenuous version of a sit-up, a curl-up is a stomach exercise for older women who are 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.
Hollow Out That Belly
Hollowing out the belly is a gentle way to strengthen and tone the deeper abdominal muscles. Get down on your hands and knees. 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 the movement 10 times.
Read more: Exercises for Women Over 60
Sit Down for Some Crunches
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 with your hands in front of your body and your weight centered on your sit bones. 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.