Flattening a big belly takes a combination of diet and exercise. Eliminating foods high in sugar and starch and eating more vegetables and only lean meat will cut calorie intake. Cardiovascular exercise like walking, jogging or bicycling will burn more calories. The combination will take off fat. Abdominal exercise then can tighten stomach muscles and pull that big belly flat. Check with your doctor, however, before you start any weight loss or exercise program.
Walking may not seem like a belly exercise, but the Mayo Clinic recommends brisk walking as a gentle, low-impact way to trim your waistline. An hour of walking, Mayo says, will burn from 200 to more than 300 calories in a 160-pound person, depending on the speed of the walk. You need to displace 3,500 calories to lose a pound. Walking also serves as a good warmup for more intense abdominal exercises.
Pilates exercises provide both cardio and strength benefits. A basic movement is the hundred. Lie on your back with your feet off the floor and knees bent so your shins are parallel to the floor. Straighten your legs to about a 45-degree angle and raise your head and shoulders, then lift your arms and pump them vigorously three or four inches off the floor. Other variations change arm and leg movements.
Planks are another basic abdominal exercise, done face down or on a side. For a front plank, lie face down on your elbows and knees, then straighten your legs and raise your body straight between elbows and toes for 30 to 60 seconds. Do a similar movement on your side, holding your body on an elbow and a foot for a minute. Vary the front plank by lifting one arm at a time and the side plank by rotating your body to the side, all the time holding your stomach straight.
Another simple workout is the arm and leg stretch. On your hands and knees, lift your right arm and left leg, then your left arm and right leg, 15 to 20 times on each side. Then flatten out on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders and do a "cobra," lifting your shoulders off the floor using your core muscles, not pushing up with your hands. Try to lift your hips to make it more difficult.
Lunges and Squats
Lunges and squats help, too. Stand up and lunge forward by stepping out with one leg. Bend your back leg so your knee almost touches the floor and twist your body to one side, then the other. Hold weights in your hands and raise the arm on the back leg side as you lunge for more intensity. Stand with your arms out in front and bend your legs to squat on your heels, then twist your arms to one side. Change sides with each squat.