Having a tight, toned stomach not only increases self-confidence, but it also decreases your chances of developing a multitude of life-threatening diseases. Excess weight around the midsection is linked to diabetes, stroke, heart disease and high cholesterol. Getting your stomach in shape prevents these ailments from developing and reverses mild to moderate cases. The shape of your stomach affects your overall health, so keeping your stomach in shape is vital.
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Walking, cycling, swimming and jogging decrease the amount of subcutaneous fat stored around and between your abdominal muscles. According to Harvard Health Publications, subcutaneous fat is what gives the stomach a flabby appearance, and regular aerobic activity will decrease this fat steadily. Perform 30 to 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least five days a week. Make sure your heart rate accelerates while exercising to ensure you are burning subcutaneous fat.
Strengthening Abdominal Muscles
When working your abdominal muscles, focus on both the front muscles and obliques. Crunches and situps work the large abdominal muscles in the front of your stomach, but these exercises are not sufficient if you want to build muscle throughout your core area. Add twisting motions to situps and crunches to target your obliques. Work these side muscles equally as hard as you work the front muscles to burn fat in and around your midsection.
Pilates builds total core strength by emphasizing the use of abdominal muscles. The Balanced Body website notes that practicing Pilates regularly will create a flat, firm stomach and torso. To ensure you are performing each movement properly, take your first few classes with a certified Pilates instructor. When learning the movements, focus on quality instead of quantity. Fully engage your core muscles with each motion for the best results.
Eat Monounsaturated Fats
ABC News reports that the consumption of monounsaturated fats reduces visceral belly fat located deep within the abdominal cavity. Visceral belly fat causes the stomach to bulge in overweight and in thin people. Burning this deeply rooted fat is the key to flattening your abs, and consuming monounsaturated fats will help with this process. Foods that are high in monounsaturated fats include olive oil, lean beef, avocados, almonds and pumpkin seeds. Consume these foods regularly to help tone and shape your stomach.