Ex dancer, choreologist, and fitness expert. Author of The Kand Technique, and Fellow of the Benesh Institute at the Royal Academy of Dance.
Obviously eating too much or eating the wrong types of food and drinking sweetened beverages will make your waistline grow but there is another reason for having an expanded waistline. The waist area is the critical part of the skeleton that relies entirely on muscle strength to help the spine carry the weight of the upper body (including the arms, shoulders, neck, and head).
Bearing in mind that the pelvis is the center of gravity in the body, the waist muscles are responsible for keeping in balance half your entire body weight! That's a lot of work. When weak waist muscles are not able to hold you upright, the body grows fat in the area to prop you up. An expanded waistline not only prevents you from moving freely but also puts your health at risk.
We All Have a Wasp Waist
At the skeletal level, we all have a tiny waist, like the very narrow part of a wasp, no wider than one vertebra. Long ago, the skeletal narrowness in the waist area was exploited by freak fashions that squeezed women's waists into tight corsets to create the then-popular hourglass shape.
Today waists are growing subcutaneous fat that lurks beneath the skin as “love handles” which is quite harmless. However, the deeper belly fat—the visceral fat that accumulates around abdominal organs—is metabolically active and has been strongly linked to a host of serious disease risks, including heart disease, cancer, and dementia.
Waistline and Health Risks
The N.I. Public Health Agency recently put out the following statement:
"Having a waistline of over 35 inches for men and 32 inches for women can put them at greater risk of developing heart disease, some cancers, and type 2 diabetes."
According to Professor Anthony Barnett at the University of Birmingham, waist measurement is more important than overall weight. Carrying fat around the stomach can quadruple the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Prof Barnett and his colleagues have been at the forefront of research into fat cells around the waistline. Their research indicates that these fat cells are not passive lumps of lard but are highly active, pumping out proteins and hormones. While in small doses these substances are necessary, in excess they can cause damage to insulin use, raise blood pressure and increase cholesterol in the bloodstream.
National Obesity Forum
Dr. Ian Campbell, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, told the BBC that the evidence is "overwhelming." People with large waistlines are just as much at risk as those who are clinically obese. And he said while doctors are "getting to grips" with the fact that abdominal weight is the key factor in diabetes and heart disease, people should keep an eye on their own waistlines.
That all sounds like terrible news but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Fat recedes with dietary lifestyle changes and specially targeted exercises.
How to Reduce Visceral Fat
There are two ways to reduce visceral fat.
- Eating healthy food and drinking water
- Targeted exercise as shown in the following videos
By itself, fat tissue cannot move but as soon as you start moving and exercising the waist area in several different ways, both the subcutaneous fat lying directly under the skin and, most importantly, the visceral fat that is blocking you up inside and poisoning your organs, that too will humbly retreat when the power of movement (exercise) comes along. All movement is performed by muscles; so let's meet those waist muscles that work together to form a safe and flexible corset around one of the most vulnerable parts of our body, our core.
4 Main Waist Muscles
The four main muscle groups that help support and move the waist area cover the three planes of motion: the sagittal, transverse, and frontal planes—no one can ever remember which is which, so I nicknamed them the "yes," "no" and "maybe" (ear towards shoulder) motions, in this context applied to the waist muscles.
- rectus abdominis in front—to bend forward (yes down)
- latissimus dorsi muscles in the back—to bend backward (yes up)
- external obliques at the sides—to bend sideways (maybe)
- internal obliques—to twist (no)
Together, the rectus abdominis and its antagonist latissimus dorsi move your torso through the sagittal plane (yes)—bending down and arching back.
The external obliques cover the frontal plane (maybe)—tilting from side to side
The internal obliques take care of the transverse plane (no)—twisting the torso from the waist
The videos you'll be practicing contain movements that cover the 3 planes of motion with several further combinations.
How to Slim Your Waistline
In order to lose fat around the waistline the fatty cushions presently helping to support the body must be replaced by strong muscle tissue. With muscles instead of fat around the waistline, the body no longer needs cumbersome cushions of fat to support it.
As a rough rule, if you lose 1 cm off your waist, you lose about 1 kg in weight. Just move the fat away by following the videos below. You can find your own level by choosing a video in the “Beginners,” “Intermediate” or “Advanced" sections.
Beginners: Sitting Torso Twists
Back of the shoulder and torso twist by Barbara Simon, from Romancing your Soul. You can do these sitting torso twists right now, even sitting at your computer.
Note: Don’t lift your shoulders like Barbara does on your in-breath.
Standing Torso Twists by Kini Knox from Expert Village
Another Variation of the Standing Torso Twist
- Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold the arms loosely by your sides.
- Involve the head. See how far you can look behind you on each twist. The eyes can lead the movement.
In this way, the whole spinal column gets a good twist, right up to the Atlas (the top vertebra that supports the head, situated somewhere between your ears).
Caution: Keep the crown vertically aligned above the tailbone. Go slowly at first.
With these core toners you can:
- Tighten the waist and butt
- Flatten the stomach
- Tone the upper arms and open shoulders
- Strengthen the core, pelvic floor, back and torso muscles
- Improve posture and reduce back pain
Side of Waist Workout
Waist Slimmers with Denise Austin
Six wonderful waistline slimmers anyone can do. Just follow the above video.
1. Side to side rotations
2. Leg and body lifts for obliques
3. Tummy tucks for core
4. Bicycle with twists
5. Elbow plank with twist
6. Lovehandle eliminators
Dancing Is Even Better Than Exercise
Having been inspired by the above video, you too can join a Belly Dancing or any other fun dancing class (men can do it too). When you dance you find your waistline the fun way. You lose weight while strength and grace are all thrown into the bargain. Enjoy your friendly body, and it will respond with great improvements.
10 Benefits of Targeted Waist Exercises
- Reduce visceral fat in the body
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower blood cholesterol level
- Lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers
- Lower risk of developing osteoporosis in the spine
- Manage your weight better
- Have a stronger back
- Reduce lower back pain
- Look good
- Feel happy
Keeping the Waistline Trim
Some or all of the eight exercise videos in this article can help you reduce the size of your waistline. However, remember to stick to a diet that is free from fatty junk food and sweet soda drinks. Once you have found your waistline you'll not want to lose it again and expose yourself to a high risk of diabetes and heart disease. So why not come back to this article every day and progressively practice the moves in these carefully selected videos.
Good luck, enjoy your journey to reduce your waistline, and please feel free to share your results and ask questions in the discussion below.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on January 13, 2020:
Nice to hear from you again. And good for you that you are actually doing the exercises.
To guide the sacrum back home, feel the sitting bones and not the tail baring the weight of your torso when sitting. Lift the ribcage when walking to straighten the pelvis
I hope this helps
Yerazed on January 13, 2020:
Wonderful article to help create body awareness! In my body the Bum-walk, torso twist and plow exercise seemed to feel the best. LOVe your videos!!! After watching some pilates positioning videos it seems my issue is my sacrum is not seated above my pelvis throughout the day which is wrecking havoc no matter how much I stretch.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on April 26, 2012:
Yes Denise, get moving again. It's fun and keeps you going.
Denise Handlon from North Carolina on April 25, 2012:
Had to check this one out-what a national (world wide?) problem this has become. I loved the belly dance video and cannot imagine that extent of muscle control! She was remarkable. I'm so glad you included it and thought she was from the Middle East, haha. What a delightful surprise.
This hub has inspired me to get moving! Thanks. Rated it up and across, except funny.
Barbara on November 06, 2011:
I never knew about the skeleton being so thin at the waist, but if you think about it, yes, it's true. So there might still be hope for me!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on November 28, 2010:
Great James, there are plenty of hubs here on how you may achieve this.
James on November 27, 2010:
Great hub Sue. I can now finally start working on reducing my stomach.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on September 25, 2010:
Cheeky Girl, thanks for dropping by and glad you enjoyed it.
oktoral on September 25, 2010:
This is a good hub, many benefits for women who need tips and information on health and body care.
Cassandra Mantis from UK and Nerujenia on August 04, 2010:
This is a great hub on waistlines and exercise benefits, one of the best I have read here. Excellent tips and information! Rating you up! And yes, the dance video is fantastic, as the cheering crowd amply indicate in the background!
radha jackie on March 15, 2010:
Thanks for getting back to me Sue. This is a wonderful service you do! It's very helpful and supportive.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on March 14, 2010:
Don't be larmed Radha. As with all statistics the measurements given in the article are probably averages. You re quite tall and surely allowances for different heights must be taken into account. With your healthy diet and youthful appearance I wouldn't worry about a thing.
radha jackie on March 12, 2010:
sue your article freaks me out, I am 66 years old but I have always had a big waist from a much younger age and now it is 31-32" . A recent blood test showed normal glucose and cholesterol levels. Anyway seeing your videos makes me realize I have to do more repetitions of the twists and core body work etc I have been doing, though I don't hold out much hope of a smaller waist!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia, southern Spain on March 12, 2010:
I'm glad to be of some support in your struggle for finding your waistline Tom. Keep up the good work and you will soon see results.
tom kando on March 09, 2010:
This is an unbelievably erudite, sophisticated and helpful article. Like most aging men, my waistline has expanded over the years. I now do a daily exercise which strengthens my waistmuscles and my diaphragm. It's still not a pretty sight, but to give you an idea, the new levies I just bought are 34s, so that's not too bad. An added advantage to strengthening these muscles is that this helps reduce my back problems.
What else can I say? We - my immediate family, my friends - are all fighting the evil consequences of fat - from diabetes to high cholesterol to high blood pressure and heart disease. It's a constant struggle. But we are fighting. And we are inspired by your wise words.