I have been trying to get more exercise this year. And although I'm still not getting as much as I should, I have taken a step in the right direction. It has helped immensely that back in the fall my family joined the local community recreation center, removing the excuse of bad weather. I think the fact that we are exercising together has helped, too, by introducing the element of peer pressure and cameraderie. We don't all go together all the time, but usually whoever is going has a partner. Finally, having an mp3 player has been a great motivation, since going to exercise also means an opportunity to listen to my favorite music or podcasts.
So in spite of the fact that I'm still not where I would like to be with respect to my fitness, I've been feeling pretty good about this whole exercise thing. The fact that I'm exercising at all is a great improvement over last year!
But a few days ago I experienced a major downer. My main goal in exercising is not to lose weight but to increase cardiovascular fitness and strengthen bones and muscles. As a small-boned person I am at high risk for osteoporosis (my mother already has it), and exercise is one of the best weapons I have in that battle. So in addition to spending some time on the treadmill, bicycle, and rowing and skiing machines, I am trying to introduce some weight training into my routine. So far I have mostly lifted free weights (very little ones) to work on arm strength. But this week for the first time I tried an abdominal crunch machine. Heaven knows, if there is any part of my body that could use some toning, it is my middle.
I was a total failure at using this machine. It's hard to describe in words how it worked; here's a link that illustrates it pretty well. I set the weight at what I thought was the lowest possible--ten pounds--and gave it my best shot. I couldn't do one single repetition. Well, maybe I could have, but I was afraid to force the issue for fear of serious injury.
The obvious question is whether I was using the proper technique. Both of my teenage children demonstrated and then watched me try to use the machine, so I think I was approaching it correctly. Still no success. What that means, of course, is that my abdominal muscles are apparently nonexistent.
So what now? I absolutely hate sit-ups & leg lifts and such (I suppose that's what got me into this situation in the first place). I guess I could just resign myself to a flabby middle (you'll still love me, won't you, family?). After all, I don't think there's such a thing as osteoporosis of the belly. But a flabby tummy now means a pot belly in twenty years, and I really don't want that.
So I guess I'm going to be hitting the floor. Maybe in time I'll be able to do a few reps on the crunch machine. My husband did inform me that I overlooked a 5-pound setting.
So, help me out. What are your favorite EASY abdominal exercises? Please, be kind.