Moms everywhere know the struggle of post-baby bulge, or that extra bit of flab that leaves their bellies wiggly and jiggly. It seems like all of the crunches in the world can’t flatten their stomachs again.
Still, few know the scientific term behind this common complaint. Also called diastasis recti, it occurs during pregnancy as the growing baby pushes the mother’s abdominal muscles apart in the space around her belly button. The lucky moms will watch this spot stretch back on its own, but in others, the gap often stays open after birth. As a result, organs and tissue bulge out of your middle, causing the “mummy tummy.”
Simply realigning those abdominal muscles will cause the stomach to flatten again, experts say. These flat-belly exercises are certainly worth a shot. But to get results fast, there’s one simple, 10-minute exercise for a slimmer waistline—and you won’t even need to leave your home to do it. (You can also try these science-backed foods for a flatter stomach.)
First, sit cross-legged on the floor with your hands on your belly and take a deep breath, letting your stomach fully expand. Then, as you exhale, suck in your belly muscles as far back as you can toward your spine.
With your stomach flattened against your spine, start taking deep breaths and push your stomach back further and further with each exhale. Do so for 10 minutes.
Done! Until tomorrow, at least. And so far, the exercise has shown incredible results. A small pilot study conducted by developers Leah Keller, a personal trainer, and Dr. Geeta Sharma, an OB-GYN at Weill Cornell Medical Center-New York Presbyterian Hospital, tracked the progress of 63 women with “jelly belly.” After 12 weeks of doing the exercise for 10 minutes per day, all of the women had fixed their diastasis recti. Some even lost a few inches to their waistlines, too.
“We had patients that were even one year out from giving birth, and they still had such great benefit from the exercises,” Sharma says. “We love to see that there is something we can do to help women.”
Although this exercise hasn’t been tested on men or women who haven’t been pregnant, something tells us that it’s definitely worth a shot.