Cardio can blast away body fat, including on the belly.
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Although men are prone to store belly fat, women can also carry excess belly fat, especially around menopause when fat tends to settle in the midsection. Women with excess belly fat are at an increased risk of high blood pressure, breast cancer, stroke, heart disease and gallbladder problems, according to Harvard Health Publications. The only way to reduce belly fat is through diet and exercise. This will reduce your total body fat, including your tubby tummy.
Schedule 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise into three days of the week to burn calories and promote weight loss. In addition to using a treadmill, stationary bike, or rowing or elliptical machine, consider participating in group sports or taking a dance class. Get your friends and family involved, and go hiking or swimming, or jump rope or a play tag with the kids. Find activities that you enjoy so you'll stick with them.
Incorporate high-intensity interval training on two nonconsecutive days of the week. Research published in 2008 in "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise" showed that HIIT was most effective in reducing belly fat in obese women. To do this type of training, go back and forth between a short vigorous pace and a moderate recovery pace. For instance, pedal on an elliptical machine for two minutes at a comfortable pace during which you can still talk, and then burst into a faster pace during which you can't talk anymore. Keep this up for one minute before returning to a two-minute recovery pace. Alternate between intensities for about 12 minutes.
Engage in strength training on a minimum of two nonconsecutive days of the week. A 2006 study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine showed that this can reduce abdominal fat increases in pre-menopausal women. In addition to your abs, strengthen your large muscle groups -- legs, arms, chest, back, shoulders, and hips -- so you burn more calories and reduce fat including that dreaded belly fat. For instance, combine lunges with dumbbell overhead presses, wall squats with front or lateral dumbbell raises, or step-ups with a biceps curl and shoulder press.
Work your abdominals with targeted exercises as part of your strength-training routine. These exercises stimulate muscle tissue and strengthen and tone your abs, but only burn fat as part of a full-body strength-training routine that stimulates muscle tissue all over. In addition to traditional crunches, reverse crunches and bicycle crunches, include V-ups, hanging knee raises and lying scissor kicks, to tighten that lower belly with which many women struggle.
Engage in five to 10 minutes of low-intensity cardio before starting your workout. This warms up your body and gets it ready for more strenuous exercise.
When using free weights or machines, always use enough resistance so the last two reps of each set are hard to finish.
Change your diet to reduce your caloric intake and to prevent gaining back the calories that you burned through exercise. Avoid simple carbs, such as refined-grain pasta and white bread, and choose complex carbs, such as whole grains, veggies and fruits, instead. Limit sugar and saturated and trans fats, and practice portion control.
Check with your doctor before starting a diet and exercise regimen, especially if you've been inactive, or are plagued with a health condition or injury.