Abdominal fat isn't just unsightly, it's also dangerous for your health. Deep abdominal fat has been linked to heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.
You can't spot-reduce, however. To lose belly fat, you have to lose total body fat, some of which will come from your midsection.
A routine of healthy eating and regular exercise is the only way to do this. The good news is you don't need an expensive gym membership. From raking leaves to doing push-ups on your living room floor, you can get a great workout without leaving home.
To lose fat around your waist, you need to create a balance between the calories you consume and the calories you burn through activity. The more cardio exercise you do, the more calories you'll burn for weight loss. And, the more intensely you exercise, the more calories you'll burn.
Cardio doesn't necessarily have to be a specific exercise activity, like jogging. It simply needs to get your heart rate up and hold it there for a period of time.
Here's a list of some cardio exercises you might do at home, with the calories burned in 30 minutes for a person weighing 155 pounds:
- Jogging in place: 272
- Jumping rope, moderate pace: 340
- Jumping jacks, vigorous pace: 282
- Dancing: 205 to 223
- Low-impact aerobics: 205
- High-impact aerobics: 260
- Low-impact step aerobics: 260
- High-impact step aerobics: 372
Some people invest in cardio equipment to keep at home, which makes fitting in cardio exercise more convenient. Here are some figures for calories burned on gym-type cardio equipment:
- Stationary bike, moderate pace: 260
- Stationary rower, moderate pace: 260
- Elliptical trainer: 335
Some household chores are also good forms of cardio exercise:
- Raking leaves: 150
- Mowing the lawn: 167
- Chopping wood: 223
- Shoveling snow: 223
Aim to do one of these exercises, or a combination of exercises, most days of the week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise each week. However, to really see a difference in your waistline, the CDC suggests doubling those numbers.
While cardio helps you burn calories while you're doing it, strength training helps you build muscle to improve your metabolism. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat -- it requires more energy to build and maintain -- meaning the more lean muscle mass you have, the more efficiently your body will burn calories and whittle your waist.
Strength training at home is even easier than cardio in a lot of cases, because you don't need much space or equipment. In fact, you can get a great muscle-strengthening workout at home using just your body weight. These types of exercises are called calisthenics.
Here are a few examples you might be familiar with:
In a lot of cases, exercises you'd typically do in a gym that might require some equipment can be tweaked so you can do them at home, quite often with what you have on hand. For example:
Rows with a table: Position yourself underneath a kitchen or dining room table or desk. Grasp the edge of the desk wider than shoulder-width, and with your heels on the floor, pull your chest toward the table edge. Bring your elbows out to the side and keep your body in one straight line. Lower back down with control and repeat.
Step ups: Use a sturdy chair or bench. Place one foot up on the bench, transfer your weight and extend through the knees and hips to stand all the way up on the bench. Step down with the right foot and repeat. Then, switch sides.
Box Jumps: Instead of stepping, jump up on the bench landing with both feet flat. Extend through the knees and hips to stand straight up. Jump back down and repeat.
You can even use items you have around the house to add weight to these exercises. Hold a couple gallon jugs in either hand as you do squats, lunges or step ups. Cartons of milk, laundry detergent jugs, bags of rice, oranges or onions also work well. Use your imagination!
- Harvard Health Publishing: Abdominal fat and what to do about it
- Harvard Health Publishing: Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights
- Myfitnesspal: Calories Burned From Jumping Jacks, Vigorous
- Myfitnesspal: Calories Burned From Rope Jumping, Moderate, General
- Myfitnesspal: Calories Burned From Running (Jogging), In Place
- Myfitnesspal: Calories Burned From Running (Jogging), Up Stairs
- CDC: Current Physical Activity Guidelines