Having excess belly fat can increase your risk for serious diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, some cancers, diabetes, stroke, high cholesterol and metabolic syndromes. A combination of tactics that include exercise, diet and lifestyle change can reduce belly fat and decrease your risk of dying early. Get your doctor’s approval before beginning any new exercise routine or diet.
Aim to get at least 60 minutes of moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise three to five days each week to increase your chances of losing fat. Try walking, running, dancing, cycling or swimming to burn excess calories. Perform circuit training. Designate up to eight stations around your home with sets of dumbbells, a staircase, an exercise mat and a clear space on the floor. Alternate between stations performing short, three-minute bouts of cardio and strength training for 30 minutes in total.
Engage in strength or resistance training two or more days each week that targets every muscle group. Use hand weights, kettlebells, cable pulley machines at your gym or use your own body weight as resistance. Start with the highest weight you can lift comfortably and aim to perform one set of eight to 10 reps of each exercise. Work your way up to adding more sets and a higher weight over time. Resistance training will build muscle and boost your fat-burning potential up to a couple of hours after your workout.
Strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles -- the obliques, rectus abdominus and transversus -- by performing basic exercises, such as crunches on an exercise ball or the bicycle maneuver. You won't burn the fat off of your stomach by doing these exercises, but you will be toning the muscles. Once you've attended to the necessary cardio and strength workouts to actually reduce fat, you'll start to notice the definition on the front of your stomach.
Eat a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and lean meats. Use a daily calorie estimate calculator to help you determine how many calories to eat based on your height, weight, age, gender and activity level. Creating a calorie deficit while trying to lose weight is effective, but not at the expense of your nutritional needs. If your activities for a particular day are more strenuous, you'll have to consume more calories.
Increase the amount of daily physical activity you get to burn calories and lose excess belly fat. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther away from the building at work or when running errands to increase your walking -- you can also vacuum an extra day each week or start a garden.
Reduce your alcohol consumption. Alcohol increases the calories you take in and can make it harder for you to lose belly fat and may even cause you to gain fat. If you do drink, do so moderately.
You can keep track of whether or not you have too much belly fat by measuring your waist regularly. Women with a waist circumference of 35 or more inches and men with a waist circumference of more than 40 inches are considered to have excess belly fat.