Belly fat or visceral fat is one of the most insidious nuisances that plague a significant percentage of individuals. This fat sits in an apron-like flap of tissue under the belly muscles that blankets the intestines. If it is not controlled it can lead to high blood pressure, elevated levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and increased sugar levels in the blood. Although it may be difficult to shed off belly fat once it has accumulated, it is NOT impossible. The article below suggests how to reduce and even prevent belly fat accumulation.
According to a new study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers and colleagues, Healthy men who did twenty minutes of daily weight training had less of an increase in age-related abdominal fat compared with men who spent the same amount of time doing aerobic activities. Combining weight training and aerobic activity led to the most optimal results. Aerobic exercise by itself was associated with less weight gain compared with weight training. Even if the fat is already there, regular exercise can reduce its pathophysiology.
“Because aging is associated with sarcopenia, the loss of skeletal muscle mass, relying on body weight alone is insufficient for the study of healthy aging,” said lead author Rania Mekary, a researcher in Harvard School of Public Health’s (HSPH) Department of Nutrition, and assistant professor of social and administrative sciences at the School of Pharmacy of MCPHS University. Mekary further said that “Measuring waist circumference is a better indicator of healthy body composition among older adults. Engaging in resistance training or, ideally, combining it with aerobic exercise could help older adults lessen abdominal fat while increasing or preserving muscle mass.”
Mekary and colleagues studied the physical activity, waist circumference, and body weight of 10,500 healthy U.S. men aged 40 and over, participating in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study between 1996 and 2008. Their analysis included a comparison of changes in participants’ activity levels over the 12-year period to see which activities had the most effect on the men’s waistlines. Those who increased the amount of time spent in weight training by 20 minutes a day had less gain in their waistline (-0.67 cm) compared with men who similarly increased the amount of time they spent on moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise (-0.33 cm), and yard work or stair climbing (-0.16 cm). Those who increased their sedentary behaviors, such as TV watching, had a larger gain in their waistline.
“This study underscores the importance of weight training in reducing abdominal obesity, especially among the elderly,” said Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH and senior author of the study. “To maintain a healthy weight and waistline, it is critical to incorporate weight training with aerobic exercise.”
Article: Courtesy of Harvard School of Public Health: Harvard T.H. Chan (2015):