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As fitness trends and westernized notions of beauty continue to evolve, waist trainers have become increasingly popular among young women. Socialites like the Kardashian sisters have contributed to the rising interest in these modern-day corsets by promoting their use over social media. However, while a waist trainer can provide the often-desired hourglass figure, some health experts believe that the risks involved may far outweigh the benefits.

A waist trainer is essentially a corset worn on the outside of an outfit, rather than under one as was popular in the past, for the purpose of slimming the waist. Celebrities and companies alike boast that these devices can help reduce water retention for a slimming effect and allow new mothers to quickly regain their pre-pregnancy body. In addition, the design of the trainer can help maintain proper posture.

 Regular cardio is key to combating belly fat.

Image source: sanjeri

Despite widespread claims of benefits, many professionals are concerned about the use of fitted shapewear because it can constrict breathing—think Keira Knightley’s character fainting in Pirates of the Caribbean. Restricting the rib cage while exercising can actually be more counterproductive to the body’s increased need for oxygen. Furthermore, long-term use of a waist trainer often causes physical displacement of the internal abdominal organs, decreasing lung capacity and potentially worsening conditions like indigestion. Accumulation of sweat due to the trainer’s tightness may also contribute to the development of back acne.

Because of the overwhelmingly negative effects of extended use, most physicians suggest only wearing a waist trainer with a relatively relaxed fit on limited occasions, such as nights out to boost confidence. As for combating belly fat, a combination of regular cardio and a balanced diet remains the safest approach.

Although routinely wearing a waist trainer can be figure flattering, these effects are very much temporary, while the adverse health impacts tend to be more permanent. Whether you’re trying to burn belly fat or simply get into better shape, it seems best to put in the work to do so—your body will thank you later.

Feature Image Source: FINISH: Bohermeen AC’s Patrick Bell 5KM Road Race 2015 by Peter Mooney

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