If you have that coveted hourglass figure, consider yourself lucky. Not only do many women long for your shape, but you have lower risk for diseases like Type 2 diabetes and hypertension than your apple-shaped counterparts. That's because you tend to have less visceral fat than women who carry more weight in the middle. No matter what your shape is, however, you can benefit your health with exercise. If you're new to working out or have existing medical conditions, consult a physician before embarking on an exercise program.
Aerobic exercise is recommended for all shapes to improve cardiovascular function, keep a healthy weight and ward off chronic diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has laid down guidelines for aerobic exercise: Do at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate activity a week, such as dancing, yard work and riding a bike at a leisurely pace. For increased calorie burn, go with more intense aerobic exercises, such as swimming laps, aerobics and singles tennis.
Ab exercises won't shrink your middle, but as an hourglass, you may tone to enhance your feminine figure. Crunches and V-ups are two effective core-toning choices. The single leg stand is a simple ab move you can do anywhere. Stand with your feet close together, knees slightly bent. Slowly lift your right foot in front of you about six inches from the ground. Hold still for 12 seconds, and then slowly bring your foot back down. Repeat 10 times, and then switch to your left foot.
Lower Body Toning
As an hourglass, you probably don't want to add more bulk to your bottom. However, you may want to tone your legs and rear. The key is to avoid using heavy weights and focus on doing more repetitions with lighter weights or using only body resistance. The bodyweight squat is an excellent choice for the lower body, and it will also work your abs. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width, chest lifted and face forward. Bend your knees and hips to lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Breathe out, and return to the starting position. Repeat 12 times.
Working your chest will not affect the size of your breasts, but it could better develop and strengthen the muscles underneath your breasts. Push-ups are effective for the chest, but as a beginner, you may want to start with incline pushups instead. Place your hands, just past shoulder width, on a bench or sturdy table. Keep your back and legs straight, and bend your arms to lower your head down to within a few inches of your surface. Push back up, and repeat for a total of 12 repetitions. Add another set as you gain strength.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.