I’ve read quite a few articles about how dangerous belly fat can be, especially for men. What’s the best exercise strategy for reducing the spare tire?
Dr. Prescott Prescribes
We may think of belly fat as that unsightly layer that lies just beneath the skin and causes the so-called muffin top. But when physicians and researchers talk about belly fat, they mean fat that is located deep within the abdominal cavity and fills the space between organs. This type of fat, which is most common in men, has been shown to increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Generations of PE classes would lead you to believe that a steady diet of core resistance training would offer the best hope at whittling away our middles. But a recent study from Duke University suggests that hitting the roads may be the best way to melt belly fat.
In the study, researchers randomly divided overweight, sedentary subjects into three exercise groups. The first group performed resistance training three times a week, doing 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions of 8 different exercises. The second simply jogged 12 miles a week. The third group did a full complement of both types of training.
After four months, researchers tested the volunteers. In the subjects who did resistance training, researchers found only a reduction in the levels of fat directly beneath the skin. But in the joggers, they found reduced belly fat as well as improved insulin resistance and levels of liver enzymes and triglycerides, all known risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. Researchers found that the combined exercisers had results that were indistinguishable from the joggers.
Resistance training, which typically involves weight machines you’d find at a health club, is great for improving strength and improving lean body mass. But if you’re overweight and want to lose belly fat, aerobic exercise appears to be the best solution. And the reason appears to be pretty straightforward: In the study, the joggers burned 67 percent more calories than the resistance trainers.
The results of this study suggest that other forms of aerobic exercise—bicycling, swimming, high-intensity aerobics classes—are also effective at ridding the body of belly fat. But what really seems to count is how much aerobic exercise you do. The more calories you burn, the better off you’ll be.