The quest for a whittled waistline gets harder as you age. The reason: hormonal changes encourage excess calories to make a beeline for your belly, where they are stored as—you guessed it—fat. When researchers at the University of Vermont tested 178 healthy-weight women ages 20 to 60, the oldest had 55% more belly fat than the youngest. (Want to get in shape but don’t have time for the gym? Then try Fit in 10, the new workout program that only takes 10 minutes a day!)
A bigger belly, however, isn’t inevitable, and tummy-toning exercises can help. A pilates workout and training is your secret weapon because it works all of your abdominal muscles: the six-pack rectus abdominis, which runs down your center; the waist-defining obliques, which wrap around your sides; and the deep transversus abdominis, which is often missed in traditional ab workouts, says LA-based Pilates instructor Michelle Dozois, who designed this Pilates workout. For maximum results, flatten your belly by pulling your navel toward your spine during each rep. Do a Pilates workout three times a week, every other day.
A. Lie on your back with your legs up and bent at 90 degrees—thighs straight up and calves parallel to the floor. Rest your hands at your sides, palms down. Keep your abs contracted and press your lower back toward the floor.
B. Inhale and lower your left leg for a count of 2 (“down, down”), moving only from your hip and dipping your toes toward the floor (without letting them actually touch it). Exhale and raise your leg back to the starting position for a count of 2 (“up, up”). Repeat with your right leg and continue alternating until you’ve done 12 reps with each leg.
Lie on your back with your legs extended along the floor. Raise your left leg toward the ceiling, with toes pointed and hands at your sides, palms down. Hold for 10 to 60 seconds. (If this position is uncomfortable, you can bend your right leg and place your right foot flat on the floor.) Make a small circle on the ceiling with your left toes, rotating your leg from your hip. Inhale as you begin the circle and exhale as you finish. Keep your body as still as possible—no rocking—by tightening your abs. Do 6 circles, then reverse direction for six more. Repeat with your other leg.