We exercise to lift our spirits and tone our bodies. As parents, exercise is very important, it keeps stress at bay and keeps us fit and active. Something we really need to chase our kids on the playground and be the healthy parents we want for them... But what if some of the exercises recommended are doing more bad than good?
Sit ups have been controversial for quite some time already. They are extremely bad for the back and can even damage the spinal discs, but are still being practiced due to flawed theories about strengthening 'core' muscles. Given that's where most people want to tone their body, trainers will still have their clients do these exercises, ignoring the fact that in the long run, they do more harm then good.
Aside from their toll on the lumbar region, sit ups put unnecessary strain on the pelvic muscles. Whenever you do a sit up, your organs are literally pushed into the pelvic region, effectively stretching out this zone, which is so important for bearing the weight of your baby during pregnancy, but also for maintaining continence later in life. Given that the pelvic rmuscles are hardly ever targeted during exercise, stretching them out is a very bad idea.
Didn't you ever wonder why it is recommended to come up from a lying position by rolling sideways first? Yep, this is exactly why.
As a side note: even devices that target the 'core' and are supposed to be 'supporting the lower back do little to no good to your body. Read this article on the Daily Mail for an in-depth explanation.
What to do instead? Abdominal muscles can be trained in various ways, and the sit up, even the most gentle versions of it, aren't necessarily the magic pill they are prescribed to be. Yoga posture the bridge is equally toning for the abdominal region, and has the benefit of not being exerting on the lumbar muscles.
Another exercise that tones those abdominal muscles without putting a strain on the pelvic region is laying flat on the back with the legs in the air. This exercise also tones the legs and glutes.
A medicine ball is also a good tool to create a strong abdominal and lumbar region.
Half squats have been long used for the toning effect they have on the thighs, however, they put an unnatural strain on the knee joint, causing premature aging. Knowing that knee surgery is one of the most frequent surgeries among elderly people, you might want to save your knees.
What to do instead? Inner thighs can be toned though various exercises: side lying and lifting the top leg, specific fitness equipment targeting the region (where you press the inner thighs together). The entire legs are toned when swimming or doing specific exercises targeting this region in aquagym.
Kegels have long been the exercise to tone the pelvic region for future moms and mothers who just had a baby. However, they've turned out not to be all they cracked out to be. Read this article for more information.
If you want to prepare yor body for birth, or restore it after, the best way to do so is deep squats. Deep squats used to be a natural way for the human being to do various activities (among other going to the loo). With a mainly sedentary life in the West, we have lost the habit of doing deep squats, but their effectivenbess to tone glutes, pelvic area and even promote optimal bowel health hasn't diminished.
Find some ways of incorporating deep squats in your life again in this article I wrote a while back.
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