Flashy images of the abdominally gifted -- those with taut, washboard abs -- are splashed across glossy magazine covers and flaunted in film and television. These images can make a woman with extra belly padding, or visceral fat, want to shed it fast. Even with the demands of everyday life -- work, school, kids or friends -- you can still carve out some "me" time and work that belly off with 15-minute exercise increments.
Ramp up your heart rate with fat-blasting, high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, and see your waistline shrink, according to the American Council on Exercise. When you increase your heart rate with bursts of aerobic exercise, you increase your metabolic rate -- or the rate at which your body burns calories. HIIT, which alternates bursts of activity with longer recovery periods, burns unsightly subcutaneous fat.
Normal aerobic exercises -- like jumping rope and running -- push your body at a moderate intensity, never breaching that aerobic threshold. Start your activity with a warm-up period of 2.5 minutes, and then increase your pace for one minute. Slow down your pace for two minutes, but do not return to your warm up pace. Repeat this pattern for 12.5 minutes, and then return to warm up pace for 2.5-minute cool down.
Burn fat and strengthen your muscles with Pilates. Exercises that tone and lengthen the body, Pilates moves focus on the abdominal muscles, or the core. These exercises help you appear taller because they slim your midsection and improve your posture strengthening and stretching your abdominal muscles, according to"Healthy Mind and Body All-In One For Dummies." To melt away belly bulge and sculpt the stomach muscle, try standing hundreds, plie with side lift, eight alternating sides, crisscross reach, single leg front and back kick and the crossover sweep. For each exercise, complete two sets of 10.
Flex your way to a slimmer waistline with yoga. Yoga poses elongate and tone the body, naturally contouring the belly region. Poses range from beginner to advanced, and can simultaneously benefit other parts of the body, including the mind. Get onto your hands and knees for the plank pose. Extend your legs back, tightening your stomach muscles. Curl your toes under and raise your torso. Align your arms with your shoulders, your fingers spread and palms flat against the floor. Inhale and exhale as you hold this position, gazing down but keeping your neck relaxed and aligned with your spine. Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to one minute. Other poses for the stomach include the full boat pose, gate pose, half moon, high lunge, the monkey pose, the side plank pose, the reclining hero pose, the sphinx pose and the upward abdominal lock.
- Do not overstretch during a yoga pose or Pilates move. If you're unsure about beginning a new exercise program, check with your personal physician to get the all-clear before working out.
- If you experience pain or discomfort, stop and seek appropriate medical care.
Having studied at two top Midwestern universities, Catherine Field holds degrees in professional writing and patient safety. Writing since 2000, Field has worked with regional newspapers while publishing fiction online. She conducts medical communication research at a Midwestern medical institution and is slated to write a book based on her research findings.