Strength Training Combats Belly Fat in Men
Fight Belly Fat
It wasn't that long ago when belly fat was believed to be little more than an unsightly reserve of adipose tissue that could at some point be used for energy.
Belly fat is now recognized as the health risk that it actually is. It's not only that layer of subcutaneous fat just below the skin, but is also visceral fat, deep in the abdomen that surrounds the internal organs. Large amounts of belly fat increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and sleep apnea.
What Causes Belly Fat?
If we consume more calories than we burn, we gain weight. Too much consumption and too little exercise equates a chubbier us, and that can include belly fat.
Aging is another factor that can contribute to weight gain. As we grow older, we lose muscle mass. The rate at which our bodies uses calories slows down, and maintaining a healthy weight can become problematic. Some men will even lose the ability to store fat in the fat cells of their arms and legs, causing excess fat to move to the abdomen.
One stereotypical visual of body fat is the beer belly we see carried about by a segment of the population, although citing beer as the lone culprit is erroneous. Nevertheless, too much of any alcohol can increase belly fat.
How Do I Know If I Have An Excess of Body Fat?
Determining if you have an excess of belly fat is easy enough: measure your waistline. In men, a measurement of 40 inches or more indicates an unhealthy amount of body fat. Whereas a measurement of 35 inches or more indicates an unhealthy amount of body fat in women.
What Can Be Done?
A recent study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health concludes that men who did 20 minutes of weight training every day had less age-specific abdominal fat than men who spent twenty minutes per day doing aerobic exercises.
Physical activity, waist circumference, and body weight of 10,500 healthy U.S. men over the age of 40 were studied. The follow-up study was from 1996-2008 and included comparisons of changes in activity levels among the subjects, to determine which activities had the greatest effect on waistlines. It was found that men who increased their weight training by 20 minutes per day, had less gain in their waistlines than men who increased moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise by the same amount.
Aerobic exercise alone was associated with less weight gain, but optimal results were seen when weight training and aerobic exercise were combined.
Prior studies were more focused on specific populations, were short-term, and yielded mixed results. This newer study was long-term and used a large sample of healthy men with a broad range of BMI.
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