The advantages of stomach flattening exercises for your body.

I'm an advocate of stomach flattening exercises. I do some, including the very boring and under rated sit-ups, as often as I can, for weight management, and for my general health...and to keep that tummy as tight as possible so it stays in my clothes, and not over the top of them.

It's not possible to spot reduce certain areas of your body just by exercising the muscles in that area. If that was true, the top of my arms would be in perfect shape...alas, that isn't the case.

Stomach flattening exercises - what do they do?

Like all specific muscle group exercises, stomach flattening exercises tone and build the muscles in that area. Building the muscles won't eliminate the fat that sits on top. What it will do is make sure that when the fat stores from that area are used, you're left with toned and strong muscles underneath.

Strengthening and toning muscles will help you when you're losing weight, not because of spot benefits, but because muscle usage and strengthening uses fat from your body. Maybe not from that particular area, but if you put in less energy than you need, your body will draw from the fat stores while your muscles are working.

So the effect of stomach flattening exercises, or tricep exercises or thigh exercises is two-fold. Firstly, it builds the muscles underneath the fat, so that as the fat goes the muscles are already strong and strengthened, and tight. And doing those exercises is a way for your body to burn off the fat it's storing on top of those muscles.

What this means for you in the long term.

As the fat decreases from your body, you can still look and feel flabby. This can be due to weak and underdeveloped muscles. As you strengthen the muscles you start to see the definition of the muscle, and the flabby look decreases.

You don't have to become a body builder, but our sedentary lives and the fact that our muscles aren't worked everyday as much as they were even 20 years ago, means that to keep these muscles strong and tones, you need to consciously work them these days.

I spend a lot of my time at the computer these days, and I've noticed that certain parts of my body aren't as toned as they used to be. A few years ago, when I was teaching full-time, this was less of a problem. I'd be rearranging furniture in a classroom on a daily basis, walking and standing up all day. Moving boxes, carrying trays and papers.

All these things were keeping my muscles fairly active. Nowadays I have to do it in other ways. I try to carry my shopping bags a little further, I do specific stomach flattening exercises because I don't use these muscles as much in day-to-day activity.

There is another reason why I'm conscious of my tummy and consistently work on my stomach. I had a stomach hernia a couple of years ago. The surgeon explained to me that while my pregnancies had contributed to the weakness, that working on those muscles, getting them into strong and good shape would do two things...reduce the risk of it happening again, and would help my core stay strong...which helps me stand straighter and reduces the stress on the muscles in that area.

And he reminded have to do them as often as you can. Muscles when not used quickly go slack, which means they don't burn as much energy (fat) and won't hold you together properly.

Doing stomach flattening exercises is a way of increasing the amount of energy you use, helping you with losing weight and maintaining it, tones the muscles, which improves you're posture and helps you look toned and lean, and improves your core muscles, helping you stand tall, which makes you look thinner, (and taller of course) and helps support your body with good posture.

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