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Pilates to beat the post-Christmas bloat

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Add a lighter spring to your step and beat the bloat after all the feasting and sitting around during the festive seasn, with this easy, body-kind routine you can try at home.

Pilates was developed by gymnast and bodybuilder Joseph Pilates as an exercise regime to achieve a flexible, toned body. It’s not about going for the burn. Instead, it’s a series of controlled and focused exercises that help develop core muscle strength to give you the right support to get the rest of your fitness regime back on track after an indulgent festive season.

Getting started

With Pilates, even if you have just a few minutes a day, you’ll start to see a difference in improved breathing, posture and body strength.

IMPORTANT – if you have any health concerns, talk to your GP before starting a new fitness regime.

Legs

  • Lie face up, on a mat or a folded blanket.
  • Hold your arms straight by your sides and inhale.
  • Raise one leg so that it makes a 90-degree angle with your body while you exhale.
  • Lower it slowly while inhaling deeply.
  • Repeat five times with each leg; rest for one minute and repeat the series.

Glutes

  • Lie face up on the mat and place your arms at your sides.
  • Bend your legs at a 45-degree angle. Inhale.
  • Lift the glutes (your buttock muscles) as you exhale. In this position, raise one leg and cross it over the other.
  • Return the leg to its initial position and repeat the exercise with the other leg.
  • Do two sets of five repetitions with each leg, resting for one minute between sets.

Abdomen

  • Lie face up, with your hands behind your neck and your legs straight and together in a vertical position, with your feet pointing straight up.
  • Contract your navel inward and slightly upward.
  • Keep your back flat on the floor, leaving no space between the mat and the lumbar spine. Inhale while holding the initial position.
  • Exhale while lowering your legs to a 45-degree angle, slightly raising your head from the floor. Your back should remain flat on the floor.
  • Inhale while returning your legs to the initial position.
  • Repeat eight times. Rest for one minute and repeat.

Arms

  • Lie face down on the mat. Extend your arms and stretch your entire body. Inhale.
  • Pull your hands in slightly and put your weight on them in order to raise your body slowly as you exhale.
  • Keep your head straight during the entire exercise and stretch until you feel the tension in your abdominal muscles.
  • Repeat five times and rest.

The secret is getting the breathing right

Take your time and do the exercises calmly. Inhaling and exhaling at the right times helps you focus on working the core muscles. The routine shouldn’t take more than 30 or 40 minutes a day, but if you haven’t got a lot of time, don’t rush: just do one or two steps properly. Ideally, it’s best to do these exercises four or five days a week, if you can.

Five key tips to help you stick to your workout routine

  • Try to exercise on the same days every week, at the same time. Write your schedule on a calendar on the fridge so you don’t forget. Find more advice for Motivating yourself to reach your goals here.
  • Exercise with friends. At home or at the gym, if you make a date with friends you’re less likely to miss sessions. Whatever the weather, here are our Workout tips for any season.
  • Complement exercise with a balanced diet. Skip the cold cuts, fatty meats and sauces and replace them with fruits and vegetables. Here are some useful ways to. Get your eating habits into shape.
  • Remember to hydrate. In addition to helping you fight hunger, water is essential when dieting and exercising. Find more savvy habits in our article Instant refreshers to pep up your day.
  • Reward yourself! Book a spa day once a month, or every time you exercise, drop a few coins into a savings jar and work towards treating yourself to a new outfit for your shapely bod! Or once a week, simply swap your workout for a relaxing spa session at home.
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