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The Princeton Longevity Center Medical News

Do "Spot" Exercises Really Work?

By Chris Volgraf, EP

You have seen the advertisements for "Thinner Thighs" or a "Flatter Stomach". The question is: Do so-called "spot" exercises actually work?  The answer is both YES and NO.  It all depends on what we expect to achieve.

YES: Spot exercises - those that condition specific muscle groups - do help tone and strengthen muscles that can result in a firmer, shapelier appearance.  For example, if your stomach bulge is a result of deconditioned abdominal muscles and poor posture, exercises that strengthen the muscles that support the spine can help improve your posture AND help you achieve a flatter-looking stomach.

NO: If your stomach bulge is a result of excess fat, don't expect to trim the fat away with bent-knee sit-ups alone.  Most conditioning exercises do not place sufficient oxygen demand on the heart to trigger aerobic metabolism - the process by which your body uses oxygen to burn stored body fat for energy.  If you are carrying too much body fat, spot exercise will do little to reduce your overall body fat percentage.

THE BETTER BALANCE: Spot exercises that strengthen and stretch specific muscle groups can help improve your appearance.  But, the better balance for weight control, cardiovascular fitness, muscular performance, and overall health and well-being - is to combine "spot" exercise with a regular program of aerobic activities.  The two are mutually beneficial - you'll feel much better, look better, and will enjoy the physical and psychological pleasures of a well-conditioned body.

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