Aerobic exercise causes your heart to beat faster and your muscles to exert themselves, promoting calorie burn. While higher-intensity physical activity burns calories faster, it can be difficult to know how hard to push your body. Your heart rate is a useful measurement that helps you determine your aerobic exercise intensity, and maximize fat burn.
Physical Activity Recommendations
Carrying excess weight on your midsection increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and certain cancers. Frequent physical activity burns fat and slims your belly. Engage in 30 to 45 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, at least five times a week, to boost fat burning. Choose activities that cause sweating, faster heart rate and quickened breathing. Swimming, running, dancing, yard work and cycling promote calorie burn.
Heart Rate Calculation
Estimate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. For example, a 35-year-old woman has an estimated maximum heart rate of 220-35 = 185. This means that her heart can beat 185 times in one minute. Athletes use maximum heart rate to calculate an appropriate heart rate zone for their performance goals.
Heart Rate Zones
Different physical activities cause the heart to beat at different rates. Moderate physical activity corresponds to a heart rate of 50 to 60 percent of maximum, or 93 to 157 beats per minute for a 35-year-old. Increasing your heart rate to 60 to 70 percent of maximum improves cardiovascular endurance and burns fat. Maintain this heart rate for a full 30 minutes to maximize the fat-burning effect and slim your belly. Increasing your heart rate to 80 to 90 percent causes your body to enter the anaerobic zone, in which it depletes cellular oxygen reserves and relies on other energy sources instead of the stored fat in your body.
Using Interval Training
Some athletes perform interval training routines to burn calories and shed extra pounds. Begin at a lower intensity -- around 50 to 65 percent of your maximum heart rate -- for two minutes. Increase your intensity until your heart rate is from 75 to 85 percent of maximum for one minute. Alternating between low- and high-intensity activity boosts fat-burning processes by forcing your body to burn its energy stores -- the stored fat in your cells.