In an increasingly image-conscious society, women are under massive pressure to have perfect bodies. Unfortunately, the responsibilities of balancing work and family, and the exhaustion many women feel as a result, can interfere with even a basic exercise routine. Exercise doesn't have to be strenuous to be beneficial, and several beginner-level exercises can help you tone up problem areas such as the waist, hips and thighs.
Cardiovascular exercise is low- to moderate-intensity exercise sustained for an extended period of time. It elevates your heart rate, strengthening your heart and decreasing your risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart attack and stroke. Cardio works large muscle groups, enabling you to burn calories and shed pounds. Walking is an excellent beginner-level cardiovascular exercise. Try walking with light weights to burn more calories and strengthen your arms. Jogging and bicycling also exercise your heart. When done at low-intensity or with a friend, these exercises can provide you with a needed break from your daily responsibilities without leaving you exhausted.
Hips and Thighs
Many women struggle to tone their hips and thighs. You don't have to exhaust yourself toning this area, though. To work your inner thighs, stand up straight with your legs slightly wider apart than your shoulders, and your toes pointed slightly outward. Gradually lower yourself -- taking about two seconds to do so -- into a squat, then hold the squat for one second. Raise yourself, taking two seconds again. Repeat 10 to 15 times. To work your outer thighs, hips and butt, lie on one side with your legs extended straight and your head propped on a pillow or on your hand. Slowly lift your leg with your toes pointed. Hold the lift for two seconds, then flex your toes as you lower it back to the ground. Repeat 20 to 25 times.
Waist and Abs
The waist is a problem area for some women after having children, and many waist and ab exercises strain your back. Start with a simple ab exercise that will also strengthen your back. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Then contract your stomach muscles while pushing the small of your back into the ground. Hold for five seconds and repeat 10 to 15 times. To exercise your abs and the sides of your waist, stand up straight while holding a small dumbbell in each hand. Push your shoulder blades slightly together, and then gradually lower the dumbbell on your right side along the length of your thigh while leaning to the side. Hold for five seconds, and then repeat on the other side.
Women's clothes often showcase the arms and shoulders, making many women self-conscious about their upper arms. To tone your upper arms, stand up straight and extend each arm out, creating a straight line. Then move your arms in small circles for two to three minutes. To work your arms and shoulders, hold small dumbbells. Extend each arm straight out to the side and bend your elbows upward. Push your arms in while holding the dumbbell so that your hands are in front of your face and your elbows meet. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.