Monday, December 3, 2012
Article # 88. CAN OBESE WOMEN BENEFIT FROM CRUNCHES?
Obesity is defined as a body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or higher. BMI is a method using your height in relation to your weight to determine your risk of disease. Currently, 35.5 percent of women 20 and older are considered obese. Adding physical activity can help you burn calories and reduce your total body weight. Obese women can benefit from abdominal crunches as part of a well-rounded routine that includes cardio, diet and resistance exercise.
To perform a basic abdominal crunch, lie on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat and your hands behind your head. If it is too difficult to get up and down off the floor, lie on your bed in the same position. Keep your elbows out wide and allow your head and neck to relax into your hands. Exhale and, contracting your abs, pull your head and shoulders a few inches off the ground. Inhale and return to the start position for one complete repetition.
Crunches work the muscles of your mid-section. Your rectus abdominus is the prime mover with the internal and external obliques assisting the movement. The purpose is to strengthen these muscles as they help support your spine and aid with movement. Often the abdominals play a role in stabilization and are active throughout the day in different ways. Improved core strength can help alleviate back pain and prevent injury.
Performing abdominal crunches will not reduce the amount of fat covering your mid-section. However, adding lean muscle to your body, as well as moving more, will raise your metabolism and help you burn calories to reduce body fat. Crunches should be part of a resistance training program, not the only exercise you perform. Instead, choose one exercise for each major muscle group and do one set of eight to 12 repetitions two to three times each week. Also, begin to add cardiovascular exercise to your day, such as walking -- 30 minutes each day is recommended. Together, regular cardio and crunches will impact your body weight significantly.
Depending on how your excess weight is distributed, you may find crunches very challenging to perform. Use a short, controlled range of motion without momentum and don't hold your breath. As you get stronger and reduce your weight, you will find that you can use a larger range of motion. Perform crunches everyday if you choose, but at least two to three times per week. Start with eight repetitions for one set and build to two or three sets of up to 20 reps. Also, reduce the amount of calories you consume by 10 to 20 percent each day to see bigger changes to your weight, health and function.