What types of exercises will work best to deal with stubborn belly fat? We’ll cover everything you need to know inside.
Belly Fat Is Developing Heart Disease and Diabetes
Before we dive into what type of exercise works best for beating belly fat, we need to fully understand what belly fat is.
Belly fat is not a normal fat storage pattern. Normal fat is called subcutaneous fat, and it’s underneath the skin.
Belly fat is known as deep, superficial subcutaneous fat, and it’s also correlated with visceral fat, which is between your muscles and organs. This type of fat is correlated with heart disease, diabetes, and cancer (2006 study). (This is the same type of fat that causes the double chin as well.)
So it’s not really a calorie issue but rather a food quality and food type issue. You don’t necessarily need to eat less—you need to eat better.
So when it comes to exercise, there are certain types that work best for helping to improve metrics of heart health and diabetes.
What type of exercise works best for belly fat?
Brisk Walks Outdoors
The absolute best type of exercise is brisk walking outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Here’s why:
- Walking improves your cardiovascular fitness by getting the heart pumping and the blood flowing.
- Walking lowers blood sugars without using insulin. It does this by using the blood sugars in the muscle contractions.
- Sunshine dilates blood vessels and lowers blood pressure, allowing nutrients to get to where they need to be.
- Fresh air with higher oxygen (compared to indoors) allows you to exercise with a better mindset and push yourself a bit more.
- Green spaces rich with plants and forests and trees release phytoncides that are antioxidants released by plants. We inhale those into our lungs, and they provide immune boosts and antioxidants for our health. (2010 study)
So be sure to do your walks outside in the sun and not inside a stuffy recycled air gym on a treadmill. (Treadmills also increase blood sugars, but regular walking doesn’t 2008 study)
If you’re not used to walking, start with a twenty-minute walk. Over time, try and gradually increase the distance and how long you walk. Work your way up to being able to do a one-hour-long walk.
Breaking Up Long Periods of Sitting
Improving your daily steps is another way to burn belly fat because you can break up long periods of sitting, which improves blood sugar levels. Aiming to get around 7,500–10,000 daily steps is a very healthy level. Bonus points if you can consistently get to around 10,000–12,000 daily steps.
If you work at a desk, like me, consider setting a timer that goes off every hour to remind you to go for a quick walk, even 90 seconds can help, and stretch the legs a bit, get the heart pumping, and then get back to work.
High-Volume Resistance Training
Resistance training, like lifting weights, isn’t as good for burning off belly fat. But it can be, in some research, if the volume is higher. What that means is that strength-training, where the reps and sets are low, and the heaviness of the weight is high—that won’t help too much.
But if you lift a lighter weight, and you do higher reps, like in the 10-20 rep range, and you rest a short amount of time, and do more sets, this will get your heart pumping and can help with the belly fat.
Don’t Forget About Diet Or Lifestyle For Belly Fat Problems
It’s true that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. You can go for an hour-long walk daily and get 15,000 steps a day, and lift weights, but if you’re eating giant bags of potato chips or eating lots of cookies every night, you’re still going to have belly fat and other issues.
Exercise is helpful, but it can’t solve everything. For example, here’s a Tour De France cyclist with exceptional exercise capacity. Yet, he has bulging varicose veins, which is correlated with getting an aneurysm. (Cyclists are infamous for drinking processed white sugar to fuel their rides.)
So don’t forget to improve your diet, sleep, water quality, and various other factors—when trying to fix your belly fat.