Toned Tummies for the Summer
by CHRISTINA PHAM
College can be a very rewarding time, but sometimes it can seem like there is no time left to take care of yourself. Yes, grades are important and so is job-hunting. However, at the end of the day, if you do not have health, nothing else matters.
One of the most important aspects of health is, of course, your physical activity. Thankfully, exercise does not have to be a chore or done extensively in order to experience the benefits. Even working out for just 10 minutes a day can significantly improve heart strength and general fitness.  And with spring and the beautiful weather finally upon us, now is the time to start exercising!
Why Having a Toned Stomach May Be Beneficial
Although having a flat belly may be deemed physically attractive, research actually suggests that a toned stomach provides much more than a “nice figure.” In fact, a larger waist size has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers.  In a study, waist circumference was found to be a better predictor of obesity related health risks such as hypertension than BMI. This means that if overweight, obese, and normal weight individuals, with the same waist circumference, were to be compared together, they may report similar health risks.  Other studies found that in both men and women, waist circumference predicts cardiovascular disease risk and abdominal fat more effectively than does body mass index.  
Research has shown that a large waist may be associated with a higher risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease. However, let us emphasize that all body shapes and sizes are beautiful in their own ways. Social media can be dangerous in that it perpetuates unrealistic Western standards of physical attractiveness. Thus, instead of yearning for that Photoshopped “perfect stomach” seen all over Instagram, perhaps turn your attention to improving core strength and tightening your muscles around the abdomen. A combination and interaction of various genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors can affect our ability to shed weight around the waist. However, that is not to say that exercising cannot help you burn excess fat, let alone improve your overall health.
Four Exercises to Burn Belly Fat
Here are four exercises that you can incorporate into your workout routine to target your abdomen region and burn some belly fat!
Start in a plank position.
Drop to a push up with your chest touching the floor.
Push up to plank position, and in one jump, bring your feet move towards your hands.
From there, jump explosively into the air reaching your arms straight up.
Repeat sequence of movements. 
New Kind of Crunch, and (not the Candy Type) “Russian Twists”
Sit so that your thighs and upper torso form a V shape, and your lower legs are crossed and lifted.
Hold a 5 pound medicine ball between both hands. Swivel left and right bringing the ball across your body while maintaining the V shape. 
Start in a plank position, with your hands underneath your shoulders, and your body in a straight line from your head to heels.
Drive your right knee towards your chest. Return your right foot to the floor and return to starting position. Alternate to your left leg. Repeat as quickly as possible. 
Medicine Ball Slams
Stand with feet hip width apart, holding a medicine ball with both hands at your chest.
Bring the ball above your head with both arms, extending your body and standing tall.
Slam the medicine ball forward until it hits the ground as hard as you can.
Catch the medicine ball when it rebounds, and repeat. 
These exercises can help you lose fat around your abdomen. Therefore, we encourage you to incorporate these exercises into your workout routine, and who knows, you may notice significant results in not only your stomach area, but also your overall fitness! Of course, fat loss in response to exercise training varies between individuals, and reduced belly fat manifests itself differently in all body shapes and sizes. Therefore, forget about what a toned tummy looks like for a moment and focus on attainable goals–building core strength and tightening abdominal muscles!
“The 5 Best Exercises For Burning Belly Fat.” Men’s Health.com. (2018).
“27 Fat-Burning Ab Exercises (No Crunches!)” Health.com. (n.d.).
“16 Best Exercises to Lose Your Belly Fat, According to Fitness Trainers.” Prevention.com. (2018).
“Waist Circumference and Not Body Mass Index Explains Obesity-Related Health Risk.” Am J Clin Nutr. (2004).
“Waist Circumference and Waist-to-Height Ratio Are Better Predictors of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Children Than Body Mass Index.” Nature. (2000).
“Waist circumference and abdominal sagittal diameter: Best simple anthropometric indexes of abdominal visceral adipose tissue accumulation and related cardiovascular risk in men and women” Am J Cardiol. (1994).
“Would You Believe 10 Minutes?” Oprah.com. (2018).