An accumulation of fat around the waistline has been shown to increase the risk for chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers. Commonly known as belly fat, the fat around the waist differs from the normal layer of subcutaneous fat that protects the body from cold and injury. Belly fat is visceral fat, extending deep into the body and interfering with internal organs.
Research has found that belly fat secretes hormones that may be damaging to the body. When stomach fat is excessive, these secretions can impair cardiovascular functioning, blood glucose balance, and increase estrogen levels in the body.
Sensible Diet and Routine Exercise – Best Way to Reduce Belly Fat
The best way to reduce belly fat is by combing a sensible diet and routine exercise. Making long-term changes in food consumption and activity levels not only reduces belly fat, but also increases one’s overall well-being and stimulates healthy weight loss.
Successful diets are ones that do not lead to a cycle of yo-yo dieting with quick weight loss and eventual weight gain. They are diets that promote slow, steady weight loss. Combining a healthy dieting plan with the following exercises ensures the reduction of unsightly and potentially dangerous belly fat.
Exercises to Reduce Belly Fat? Not Really…
Although special exercises targeting the muscles of the abdomen tone the midsection do exist, research has shown they are not effective in specifically reducing belly fat. Exercise stimulates the body to use stored fat as fuel, but it is impossible to direct which fat is burned first.
Abdominal exercises strengthen and firm muscles, but they don’t convert belly fat to muscle. Abdominal exercises can be part of a successful fat loss plan, but they alone are not the solution.
Aerobics Are Key to Shrinking Your Waist
To successfully reduce belly fat and increase activity levels, cardiovascular exercise and strength training should be combined. Although this is the optimal plan, belly fat reduction can occur with aerobic exercise only.
One research study found that although diet alone can lead to fat loss, only when combined with exercise did abdominal fat cells shrink in size. Treadmill walking was the exercise the participants used. One group walked at one to two miles per hour for 50 minutes three times per week. The second group walked at 3.5 to 4 miles per hour for 30 minutes three times per week. After 20 weeks, both groups showed a reduction in belly fat cell size of approximately 18 percent.
Walking, jogging, swimming, and bicycling are all aerobic exercises that help reduce belly fat. These activities not only speed up metabolism, which helps to burn fat, they also reduce stress.
Stress: The Great Saboteur
Studies have shown that stress may be a factor in specifically increasing belly fat more than other types of fat. The increased accumulation of belly fat puts those under stress at added risk for heart disease.
Yoga and Pilates Kill Love Handles
Both yoga and Pilates provide whole body aerobic exercise that helps reduce belly fat and shrink the size of abdominal fat cells. Yoga and Pilates emphasize flexibility, strength, and breathing. Either is an excellent way to tone the body, burn calories and reduce stress.
Pilates focuses on core strength, helping to tone the muscles of the abdomen. These exercise routines are appropriate for any level of experience. Beginners learn basic positions and breathing, advancing to more challenging routines as strength, flexibility, and balance improvement.
Ideally, cardiovascular exercise sessions of 30 to 45 minutes should be done at least three times a week. Along with specific exercise routines such as moderate strength training, making an effort to generally increase daily activity levels increases metabolism which in turns burns excess fat. Simple activities like choosing to take the stairs rather than an elevator or parking the car towards the back of the lot keep the body moving and burning fat.
To lose the belly fat, the key is to simply become more active! If you do so, the belly fat will begin to melt away.
About the Author
Monique Hawkins loves sharing health and fitness tips so all can get reach their weight and fat loss goals. She believes that with simple lifestyle and dietary changes, anyone CAN lose the weigh and fat plus keep it off for good. For weekly weight loss tips and strategies, visit her blog at How to Lose Weight Plan