You may want to lose weight, but when it comes to exercise, you're hoping to keep the workouts to what you can do in front of the TV. If that's limited only to situps and hip flexor exercises, don't expect to shed pounds very quickly. So long as you don't gorge yourself on pie and cake after your "workout," you might lose some fat -- but it's probably far less than you might have hoped.
What You'll Burn
Situps and hip flex exercises, which might include hip abduction and hip adduction exercises, can be categorized as calisthenics, or "toning" exercises. When you're sitting in front of the TV at night, you might be able to do 10 minutes of situps and two sets of adduction and abduction exercises for another 10 minutes. For a 160-pound person, that 20-minute routine will burn about 85 calories, according to the American Council on Exercise. With toning and strengthening exercises, you won't get much more benefit by doing more sets, reminds MayoClinic.com.
So how many calories can you burn by doing these exercises for four months? First off, you won't be able to do them every day. You need to take at least 24 hours of rest in between toning and strengthening exercises to give your muscles time to recover. That means at most, you'll be able to do them four days a week, and three days the next week. In a 31-day month then, you'll be able to do these exercises 17 times, which equates to 1,445 calories for that 160-pound person, or a deficit of about 5,780 calories in four months. To lose 1 pound of fat, you have to create a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories, meaning you'll lose less than 2 pounds doing only those exercises.
Up Your Game
If you're really serious about losing weight in a reasonable amount of time, you're going to have to do more than just those few exercises. If you're not able to do any other exercises, that's OK -- you have another way to cut the calories you need to cut in order to lose weight. Take a deep breath here -- the way to cut calories is to reduce the number of calories you eat. According to reports from the National Weight Control Registry, just 1 percent of dieters have had success in losing weight through exercise alone, and only 10 percent have had success through diet changes, meaning 89 percent of people combined diet and exercise to achieve their goals.
Don't despair -- you won't have to totally starve yourself to get on the weight-loss train. Start by figuring out how many calories you're consuming by writing down everything you eat every day for a week, and then use an online "calories in food" calculator to figure out your daily average. Also use an online "caloric needs" estimator to determine how many calories you can consume and still meet your goals. First off, you might cut out those late-night desserts, but also look for lower-calorie options to replace high-fat, high-calorie foods. Cut out sodas, alcohol and excess sugar. Drink water before you eat to reduce the amount you eat. If you need help, consider joining a program that helps you track calories and plan your meals. According to the registry, 55 percent of people had success by joining a weight-loss program.
Up Your Game Even More
While doing those situps and hip flexor exercises is never going to be a bad thing, if there's any way for you to do even more exercise, do it. If you have health issues or are recovering from an injury, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about what might be OK for you. She may recommend a simple walking routine, water aerobics, rowing, the elliptical trainer or other low-impact exercises that won't cause you pain or damage to your joints. Consider this -- even walking for 30 minutes a day at a relatively moderate pace will burn about 120 calories for a 160-pound person. You can only do so many situps and hip flexors, but walking is something you can do to go to the store, give the dog some exercise or take a break from the office.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.