Tired of the pouch around your belly? Can’t fit into your favorite jeans thanks to that muffin top? Countless men and women regardless of age, size and body type fight an uphill battle with belly fat. Known as visceral fat, this layer of fat around the midsection not only affects self esteem or hinders sartorial choices, but is also a leading cause for several ailments like heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, etc.
Cardiovascular exercises have proven most effective to beat that stubborn belly fat. Exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, approximately five times a week is sure to have you reaping the benefits of a taut midsection in a few months’ time. Here are seven ways to fire up your metabolism and get rid of all that excess belly fat:
For those unaccustomed to any kind of physical activity, brisk walking is an ideal start. Make sure to pick a pace that has you working up a sweat and one that leaves you slightly labored for breath. This way, you can be assured to maintain a slightly higher heart rate that is most effective to burn up calories. A 30 minute brisk walk, five times a week would be ideal. Make sure to flail your arms freely, and tighten your midsection as you walk, for a more effective workout.
If you do not have access to open spaces, walking on a treadmill at an incline or using an elliptical machine would work just fine.
- Running or jogging
For those who are fitter and want an activity that is more vigorous, running or jogging would be most suitable. A run or a jog for 20 minutes will help elevate the heart rate, work on several muscles all over the body and leave you feeling elated at the end of the session. Before you set out for a run or a jog; whether at the park or at your local gym’s treadmill, make sure to warm up in order to minimize injuries. Investing in proper running shoes is also mandatory as is staying hydrated, not just during the run but throughout the day. So clock in your minutes, four times a week and soon, you’ll observe the results!
The fact that swimming is an effective activity to beat stress after a long day is well known. Observe closely and you will see that those who partake in said activity on a regular basis are leaner than those who do not. This is because, apart from being an extremely fun and relaxing sport, swimming is a wonderfully holistic cardiovascular exercise. It engages several small and large muscles all over the body, providing an effective workout. For optimal results, you could try the freestyle stroke, breast stroke, butterfly or even doggie paddle to burn off that belly fat.
If you’re looking for fun ways to burn belly fat, then aerobics comes strongly recommended. A typical aerobics session involves different physical exercises that bring together aerobic exercise along with stretching and strength training. The end result is an overall improvement in fitness (flexibility, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness). As it is a group activity, performed to music an aerobics class at a local fitness centre is a surefire way to beat stress too!
Looking to mix up your workout routine while you combat that belly fat? Try bicycling! Effective as a full-body cardio, bicycling is also less strenuous to knees and joints than other forms of high intensity workouts. It must, however, be noted that proper gear is of utmost importance- invest in a sturdy bicycle fit for this purpose, don proper riding gear including clothes, safety helmet, gloves and protective knee and elbow pads to minimize the risk of injuries. Do not forget to carry that bottle of water to prevent from getting parched!
- Gym Training
A lot of people choose to work out in the gym and exercises like ab crunches, planks and reverse crunch have proven extremely effective to lose belly fat.
* The reverse crunch is ranked as the 5th best exercise to strengthen and engage ab muscles actively. Here’s how you can execute the same:
-Lie flat on the floor with arms at your sides
-Cross your feet and lift them off the floor so your knees create a 90-degree angle
-Contract ab muscles and lift head and shoulders off the ground
-Exhale when you contract; inhale when you lower back down
-Do 1-3 sets with 12-16 repetitions
* Another one would be the vertical leg crunch, which requires you to keep your legs straight, and makes the abs work harder thereby increasing the workout’s intensity.
-Lie down with hands behind your head
Put your legs straight up with knees crossed
-Flex abs to lift head and shoulders off the floor
-Lay back down
-Keep legs extended in the air the whole time
-Exhale when you flex; inhale when you lay back down
-Do 1-3 sets with 12-16 repetitions
It is essential to remember to work your abs at the very end of your session. This is because any kind of activity in the gym will indirectly engage your abs. However, note that doing abdominal exercises at the beginning will only serve to tire these muscles, thereby, compromising on the quality of your workout session.
Irrespective of whatever activity you choose to burn the stubborn belly fat, supplementing it with a proper diet is crucial. Crash dieting is strictly a no-no. Instead, try to achieve a healthy balance between different nutrition groups, namely proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Dietary fiber too plays a vital role. In fact, research suggests that consuming 10 gm of soluble fiber alone goes a long way to slow down the process of visceral fat buildup. So while you consume eggs, fish, pulses and chicken as lean proteins, do not forget to add salads, a serving or two of fruits to the mix!
Truth be told, losing fat around the midsection is hard work. It requires different strategies, approaches and is affected by factors like metabolism, genetics, will power, etc. Adopting a trial and error method would help initially, till you can figure out what works best for your body type and fitness level. That and a balanced diet, coupled with enough rest will surely have you looking your healthiest and fittest!
Nagwa Kureshi, loves baking and long walks by the beach and a good run is her way of destressing.