Can You Tone Up without Exercise?
Salma Hayek recently claimed in People magazine that she stays toned and taut simply by "holding the body in a way that activates muscles all day.” Can you actually tone your belly and other trouble spots without working out or going to the gym? If you have an active lifestyle, can you really skip regular exercise and still be healthy and fit?
It is true that you can stay toned if you’re already somewhat in shape and know how to use your muscles. The key is consciously activating them in your daily activities to flatten the belly and engage the core, stabilize the shoulder blades, contract your glutes to squat and your biceps to lift and carry. You can achieve a level of toning by contracting your muscles at a low level of intensity. If you’re concerned about maintaining a toned belly, this is something you can do every day.
- To engage your core and flatten your belly, "zip up" your abs as if you were zipping up a tight pair of jeans. Pull your navel in toward your spine and then up, lifting the pelvic floor. (Download free video demonstrating the move here).
- Stand up straight, rolling the shoulders down and back. Hold them there by engaging the muscles between the shoulder blades to anchor them and prevent a "forward slouch."
- Sit without support, using your core muscles to keep your spine tall, ribs stacked over the hips.
- When you bend and lift, use the large muscles of your legs – the glutes, quads and hamstrings – to squat down, keeping your back straight.
- When you are leaning forward, practice the "hip hinge," bending forward from the hips and not the waist. Keep your spine straight instead of rounding the upper back.
- Get up from any seated position without using your arms for support.
- When you brush your teeth, stand on one leg for balance and feel the muscles of that leg working to support you, especially in the ankles. Do both legs or focus on the weaker one.
When it comes to your overall fitness, using these simple techniques can help maintain muscle tone. Just remember that in terms of health benefits, you are not building muscle strength or bone density, nor are you conditioning your cardiovascular system. And we all know how important that is. You may be very active during long work days, but if you are not elevating your heart rate and breathing levels it still won’t improve the function of your heart and lungs. Cardio activity aids in reducing your risk of disease and adds energy, stamina and years to your life. Plus, it burns a lot of calories!
What else can you do if you have little to no time? At the very least, simple body weight exercises like squats, push-ups and planks will develop muscular fitness. For cardio, try adding 10-15 minutes of fast walking or stair climbing at different points during the day, and you’ll easily accumulate at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
Looking for more expert advice on the best ways to deal with belly fat and bloating?
Check out my online fitness and nutrition course “Beat Belly Fat, Bloating, Bone Loss and the Blues.” These easy-to-follow video lessons are packed with real-life fitness and food tips to help you lose inches, tighten muscles, keep your bones strong, enhance your mood and manage your stress.