Besides launching millions of sit-ups, leg lifts and torso twists, the desire for a toned and taut physique has sold a long line of exercise devices of dubious worth. Countless inventions, such as vibrating belts and ''gut-busting'' contraptions, have claimed to miraculously tighten and tone our trouble spots.
But the miracles we were expecting never materialized, and our ''spots'' remained ''unreduced.'' What's wrong with spot reduction?
Where did we go wrong? In our efforts to tone our bodies we neglected the most important factor: fat. Exercises such as crunches or leg lifts improve the tone and endurance of the muscles, but they don't burn fat. When we do exercises that elevate the heart rate, such as bicycling, walking or aerobic dance, the body will draw upon its fat stores for energy.
Alternative solutions Eating a low-fat diet and following an exercise program that combines aerobic activity and strength training is the key to changing the shape of your body.
In addition to burning calories through aerobic activity, strength training will increase the amount of muscle, which burns even more calories. But many people shun the idea of intensive exercise, scared off by the idea of five-mile runs, barbells or aerobic classes.
Thankfully, any aerobic activity that elevates your heart rate can help you burn fat and take off unwanted pounds. Many experts recommend doing at least three sessions of 20 minutes of aerobic activity per week. Ideally, for long-term weight control, you should engage in at least four sessions per week, for 45 minutes each time.
ACE Fit Facts are reprinted from ACE FitnessMatters magazine, Permission Granted.
Download the full article here, at the American Council on Exercise