Body-shaping and Other Questions

Is there an exercise for the face?
According to some plastic surgeons, the muscles in our face are directly attached to the skin so the more you move or "exercise" the face, the more wrinkles you will eventually have. On the other hand, others believe that that there are special exercises for the face to keep it looking young. No one really knows yet who is right.

Is it okay if I work out during my period?
Yes, it is okay to work out during your period. Many women find that exercise eases the symptoms of bloating, depression, lethargy, and lower back pain that usually accompany menstruation.

Is it okay to take a bath after an exercise? If I take a bath, will I not have varicose veins?
Yes, it is all right to take a bath after exercise. I am assuming of course that you will go through a proper cool-down period so you are not taking a bath with your heart beating wildly. Warm or cool water is fine. According to phlebologists (doctors who specialize in veins), there is no connection between taking a bath and varicose veins. The tendency to develop varicose veins is one that you inherit.

Is it really true that the butt is the hardest part of the body to shape up? You see, my "biggest" problem is my butt. Mine is ultra "slim". I want to make it "full".
The buttocks are hard to shape up because they are the largest muscles in the body in terms of mass. Large amounts of resistance or weights are required to turn slim or flat buttocks into full ones. Exercises like lunges, squats and cable hip extensions are your best bets.

Will running interspersed with walking make my legs big? I walk twice a week for 45 minutes. I've noticed that my legs are starting to get a bit bulky. Perhaps I should try running and walking only on flat surfaces? Will walking help to tone and trim down my heavy thighs?
Not everyone's legs bulk up from running or walking on inclined surfaces but you might be one of the ones that do. Yes, walking or running should help trim down heavy thighs. Leg exercises with light weights will also help and, most of all, eating the proper amount of calories.

If I stop aerobics, will I get fat?
Stopping aerobics will not make you fat if you eat less than you were while you were doing the aerobics. You see, whenever you stop any type of exercise or sports that you were doing on a regular basis you are no longer burning the equivalent number of calories. If you continue to eat the same way, yes, you will eventually put on some weight. This is also the explanation why most people put on weight when they start to work in offices - they continue to eat the same amount of food that they did as active teenagers or college students. It is not surprising that they put on weight over a period of time.

What exercise can I do to relieve stress and anxiety?
All exercise programs relieve stress and anxiety - for example, weight lifting or aerobic type activity (walking, running, biking, aerobic dance classes, etc.). Stretching programs done with dim lights and slow soft music can be especially relaxing.

I cannot understand why, after two months of regularly working out, I have lost an inch from my chest, waist and hip areas but I still weigh the same. Should I continue exercising or should I just go on a diet first until I reach my ideal weight and then go back to tone my muscles?
It is not uncommon to lose inches but not pounds when you start exercising because your muscle cells are getting denser and heavier (translation: harder, firmer, more toned) and your fat cells are getting smaller. The gain in muscle weight and the loss in fat weight equal no change when you step on the scale but a change in your measurements. As you can see, the scale does not tell the whole truth. Please continue exercising. The more muscle mass you have, the faster your metabolism and the more calories you burn throughout the day. Don't worry, you will eventually start losing weight on the scale when your muscles stop getting denser and your fat cells continue to shrink.

Does walking help trim the tummy?
Walking helps to trim the fat over the abdominal area because cardiovascular exercise (walking, jogging, dancing, cycling, aerobics, etc.) burns fat all over. However, walking will not firm the muscles in your abdominal area. To do that, you need to do specific abdominal exercises. Tight, firm abdominal muscles help to keep the tummy flat.

I'm trying to firm up my legs and arm muscles because I think they're too skinny. I thought that ankle and wrist weights would help, but in a past article, you mentioned that it is unsafe to wear ankle weights while walking.
Ankle weights will help to firm up your legs - you just shouldn't be using them while you walk. These firming exercises using the hand and ankle weights should be done separate from your walking sessions.

I'm your typical pear shaped body person. I have a small upper body, especially the chest, and a big lower body. I'm not actually overweight so it's not my goal to lose weight but to shape my body so it looks more proportioned. I read in one magazine, that for a pear shaped body like mine, I should avoid bench and high-impact aerobics, but in the gym where I go, it is usually high-impact and bench. What do you think? Also, among the treadmill, stair master and bicycle, which is the best aerobic workout for people like me?
Continue doing your aerobics and gym routine but take note of the following guidelines. If you are doing the step, go no higher than six inches. If you are doing high-impact aerobics, try to do it not more than once or twice a week. A lot of jumping can sometimes cause some people to develop large leg muscles. If you are doing the stair climber, please make sure not to use very high resistance. The same goes for the bike. The treadmill is fine but you may want to avoid very high inclines as this can also develop large thigh and buttock muscles in some people.

Consider using heavy weights and less repetitions (about 8 to 12) to develop the muscles in your upper body so you will look more proportioned. Use light weights and more repetitions (about 15 to 20) for your lower body so you will tone, shape, and define your muscles without making them any bigger.

Even if you don't want to lose weight, watch the fat content in your diet because most of the excess that pear-shaped people eat goes to their thighs and hips. You also need to face the reality that your lower body may never be exactly as slim as your upper body. You will have to make some kind of compromise that both your face and your lower body will be happy with.

I want to know how to build muscles without making them bulky. I am working out at home on something that looks like a rowing machine but I am building bulky muscles in my calves and on my thighs and I don't like it at all!
The way to build muscles without them becoming bulky is to do many repetitions with light weights. Please check the resistance on your "rowing type machine" -- it may be too high for you. Do you feel like you have to push (with your legs) and pull (with your arms) against a lot of weight when you use the machine? This could be one reason why your calves and thighs are bulking up. The good news is that your muscles respond to the "reversibility principle" -- when you stop using a high resistance on the machine, your muscles shrink back down to their original size.

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