Most women struggle to keep their waist and hips -- the all-important components of an alluring hourglass figure -- proportionally thin. You don't have to spend all of your time fighting weight in these areas, though. A regular exercise routine in conjunction with a healthy diet can help you keep your hips and waist trim and toned.
Cardiovascular exercises such as biking, running and jumping rope don't directly target your hips and waist. They are, however, an important part of keeping these problem areas toned because cardio burns lots of calories. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise -- such as walking -- or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise -- such as running -- per week. By incorporating cardio into your fitness routine, you can improve your overall health and maximize the calories you burn.
Interval training increases the calorie-burning power of cardiovascular exercise, and can be completed much more quickly. Try sprinting at close to your full speed for 30 to 45 seconds. Then slow your pace down to a fast walk. Increase your speed to a sprint again, and alternate between sprinting and walking for 10 to 15 minutes. This routine increases your metabolism and muscle-building power and is an ideal workout to do before doing targeted exercises.
The obliques are the side muscles of the abs, and they play a major role in helping your waist look toned. To exercise these muscles, lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Raise your torso and twist to the right side while raising your right knee. Touch your left elbow to your right knee, then repeat on the other side. Perform 10 to 15 reps.
To exercise the sides of your waist, try a side plank. Lie on your right side with a rolled towel or small exercise ball between your legs. Your left leg should rest on top of your right leg. Extend your right arm straight out and slowly elevate your hips off of the ground using your abs. Your arm should not lift you. Instead, use it for support. Hold for five seconds, then lower yourself to the ground. Perform five to 10 reps on each side.
Target your outer hips with a standing side kick. Stand with feet flat and hands on your hips. Elevate your right leg to the side as high as you can, then hold for three seconds. Repeat five to 10 times on each side. This exercise also works your inner thighs and glutes.
Exercise your hip flexors, outer hips, glutes and outer thighs with a hip raise. Lie on your back with your feet flat and knees bent. Lift your hips slowly as you extend your right leg straight out. Hold the position for one to two seconds, then lower your leg and your hips. Elevate your hips again, this time straightening your left leg. Repeat five to 10 times on each side.
- MayoClinic.com: Rev Up Your Workout With Interval Training
- Fitness Magazine: 10-Minute Hips Workout
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises; Adam Campbell
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images