If excess fat around your middle is making you feel insecure, stop sitting and start moving. Not only will reducing belly fat make you look and feel better, it also lowers your risk of health conditions, such as heart disease and type-2 diabetes. Since spot reduction is impossible, focus on doing the best exercises to reduce fat from your entire body and, before your know it, your stomach fat will vanish.
Work Up a Sweat
Moderate cardio for 30 to 60 minutes on five days of the week burns calories and helps to slim your tummy. Perform activities that constantly challenge your core muscles -- exercise on a treadmill or on an elliptical machine with moving handles, take a cycling or kickboxing class, or play tennis or volleyball. For an extra calorie- and fat-burning boost, incorporate high-intensity intervals into your routine. Every two minutes or so, speed up your moderate cardio of choice to a vigorous pace for 30 seconds to one minute. A moderate pace should still allow you to talk, while a vigorous pace only allows you to say a few words.
Strengthen Your Muscles
Strength training maintains and builds muscle tissue -- and this helps you lose body fat including the fat in your belly. Because muscle uses up more calories than fat to sustain itself, you burn calories during and after your strength workout. Work your large muscles, such as your legs, arms, chest, shoulders, back and abdominals, on at least two days of the week. For variety, consider doing circuit training during which you go from one exercise to the next without resting. For instance, do one set of bench presses and immediately following this with dumbbell squats, bent-over rows and bicycle crunches.
Target Your Abdominals
Although abdominal-strengthening exercises, such as sit-ups and crunches, don't reduce belly fat, they do improve the endurance and tone of your abdominal muscles. When your belly fat reduces, these exercises will ensure that your tummy appears taut, tight and well-defined. The American Council on Exercise commissioned a study that showed that bicycle crunches, knee raises in a captain's chair machine, and crunches on a stability ball are the most effective when it comes to targeting your abdominals. These exercises can be part of your strength-training routine.
Skip the Doughnuts
When it comes to reducing belly fat, regular exercise is only part of the equation. Your diet is another essential factor. If you often feast on chips, cookies, doughnuts, and other processed foods, you won't see results no matter how much you exercise. Skip or replace unhealthy foods that pack on the pounds. Focus on healthier fare, such as whole grains, fruits, veggies, low-fat dairy and lean protein. Smaller portions can also help you lose pounds. Before changing your lifestyle, see a doctor, especially if you have a health condition or injury or if you've been inactive.
- The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- American Council on Exercise: Fit Facts: So, You Want To Spot Reduce? Here’s How
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
- Fitness: Your Flat-Abs Handbook: Cardio for Killer Abs
- Shape.com: 8 Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
- Effective Strength Training; Douglas Brooks
- Shape.com: 7 Benefits of Circuit Training (and One Downside)
- American Council on Exercise: New Study Puts the Crunch on Ineffective Ab Exercises