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Keep them moving

Sunny days are here again and as the mercury hits the roof, the temptation is to slide into those sleeveless tops, the latest swimwear and the breezy bermudas. The only problem is: you might look a sight in them. If partying, bingeing or simply a sedentary lifestyle have left you with ugly lumps and bumps, it’s time to set things right.

One of the basic reasons we tend to put on weight is because our input (read food intake) does not match our output (read exercise). And while there is a limit to how much we can cut down on eating, there’s no end to the many ways we can use our muscles to burn up fat.

But make sure to get the green signal from your doctor before you plan any workout, says Dr Anubha Chakraborty, founder-director of Atlanta Health Centre for Women, Calcutta. “Walking is a good option but you must take up the right kind of walk, and a doctor is best qualified to guide you on that, depending on your age and your cardio-vascular conditions.” And as for other exercises — without the nuisance of going to classes — fitness expert Preetom Roy Mukherjee says, “There are exercises which, if practised for 20 minutes for two weeks, will definitely work.”

THE PERFECT EIGHT

FOR SHOULDERS (to go with that halterneck you saw in the shop window): Remember those PT exercises we used to do in school' Arms stretched on both sides, lifted above your head and then again brought back to your sides' You could do something as simple as that, although there are loads of other free-hand stretches you can do. Here’s one exercise that is especially good for your wrists, arms and shoulders: Interlock your fingers above your head (palms must face upwards) and then push your arms slightly back and up. Do not arch your back and breathe normally.

FOR YOUR BELLY (imagine it stretching tautly below your favourite cropped top): Adopt a standing position with your toes pointing forward. Then tuck in your abdominal muscles with shoulders back. Now, slowly inhale as you squat down until the backs of your legs are parallel with the floor. Exhale as you press through your heels and concentrate on squeezing your rear end, as you lift. Do not let your knees go beyond your toes. If they do, then you need to sit further back.

FOR YOUR CALVES (to curve gracefully downward from technicolour bermudas): Get down on your hands and knees, then straighten your legs, but keep them slightly bent. Then gently press one or both feet towards the floor, keeping your back flat and the abdomen in.

FOR YOUR ABS (finally, you can buy those low-slung jeans): Place your hands crossed on your chest, lie flat on the floor and bend your knees. Slowly raise yourself, using only your abs, but make sure that your lower back is always pressed against the floor. Begin with 10 movements and gradually increase the number.

FOR YOUR WAIST (show off the cinch): Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and tummy tucked in. Reach your right arm up and over your head to the left side. Your left arm reaches down your left leg to your knee. Let your body lean into the stretch. Hold for a count of three. Return to your starting position. Change arms. You can also do this exercise sitting in a straight-backed chair.

FOR YOUR BUTT (and watch the difference it makes to the fall of your denim wrapover): Lie flat with your knees straight and legs far apart. Roll your feet and knees toward each other so that you’re pigeon-toed, then roll them out. It may feel like your feet are doing the work, but actually it’s your hips.

ALSO FOR YOUR BUTT (because you need double attention there): Lie on your back, with your hands out by your sides, palms down. Now, you have to bend both your legs but at the same time must keep feet firmly flat on the floor. Lower the knees to one side turning at the waist. Though it will be initially difficult, one must aim to keep the thighs to the floor. Slowly repeat the routine again on the other side. Beginners should start with 10 rolls on each side.

FOR YOUR CHEST (and the new, clinging shirt): Place your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart, fingers spread. Keep your abdominal muscles tucked in at all times to support your lower back. Now slowly inhale as you lower down to at least two inches above the floor, exhale as you press back up. Your chin should always be just over your fingertips.

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