If you’re looking at one thing that you can do to fight fat and lose the belly fat, then exercise is one thing you definitely need to incorporate.
A recent study showed the following results:
- Those who were inactive had more fat buildup deep inside their stomach.
- Moderate amounts of exercise kept levels of belly fat the same.
- Higher, more intense exercise cut deep into the fat around the midsection.
The study appears in The Journal of Physiology. Duke University Medical Center researchers performed the study under the supervision of Cris Slentz, PhD, who is an exercise physiologist and colleagues.
If Slentz had it his way, people would stop thinking “weight loss” and start thinking “health gain.” You see, belly fat or abdominal fat is known in the scientific community as visceral and liver fat and it’s located very deep within the abdominal cavity. It also fills the spaces between internal organs and this type of belly fat has been associated with an increased risk for heart problems, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and even certain types of cancer.
Visceral fat isn’t just a problem for all the millions of overweight and obese people. People who appear thin can also have too much visceral fat if they aren’t in shape.
How Do You Compare?
The study conducted by Slentz included 175 men and women from North Caroline.
- All the people chosen were overweight, sedentry, and had cholesterol issues ranging from mild to moderate
- The age group selected was between 40 – 64 years old
- All women selected were postmenopausal.
- Of those selected, none had high blood pressure or diabetes
- None of those selected had any plans to diet
- Close to 20% were minorities.
The people were split into groups and agreed to do the following for six months:
- Stay inactive (the comparison group)
- Asked to get low amounts of exercise that would be considered moderate-intensity (roughly equal to walking 12 miles weekly)
- Asked to get low amounts of exercise that would be considered vigorous-intensity (roughly equal to jogging 12 miles weekly)
- Asked to get high amounts of exercise that would be considered vigorous-intensity (roughly equal to jogging 20 miles weekly)
Participants were either supervised directly or wore heart-rate devices to monitor their exercise intensity. The participants used either a treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical trainer.
During the study, they were asked not to change their diet.
Blasting Belly Fat
Imaging scans of the belly were done before the study and after to check visceral fat levels. The results:
- For the sedentry group, visceral fat rose by nearly 9%.
- For the group who did low amounts of exercise at either intensity, visceral fat stayed the same.
- For the group who got vigorous exercise, visceral fat dropped on average by 7%.
The group did the most vigorous exercise also had close to a 7% drop in fat around their midsection. This group was also the only group that lost fat.
Those who actually ended up losing fat did the equivalent of jogging 17 miles a week. While this seems like a lot of exercise, it is an achievable amount of exercise as seen from the study participants who were all previously either overweight or obese and all were sedentary.
It should also be noted that resistance training is wonderful for strength improvement and increasing lean body mass, however according to Slentz “if you are overweight, which two thirds of the population is, and you want to lose belly fat, aerobic exercise is the better choice because it burns more calories.” According to his study, 67% more calories were burned when doing aerobic training as opposed to resistance training.
If you’re looking to lose belly fat, aerobic exercise is the way to go, and while high intensity exercise is best for losing the fat, it’s just important to get balance and to get out there and exercise. What really counts is how much exercise you do per day, how many miles you walk or jog and how many calories you’re able to burn. If you end up choosing a lower intensity for your aerobic exercise, it will just take you a longer amount of time to burn the unhealthy fat as opposed to those who do higher intensity.