Exercise can go a long way in banishing deep belly fat for good -- no matter what type of workout you do. Visceral fat that sits deep in your abdomen differs from the unsightly but more benign subcutaneous fat just beneath your skin. While visceral fat can also be dangerous for your figure, the bigger concern is the potential damage to your health. The good news: visceral fat responds well to exercise. In fact, it's easier to trim your belly than your hips and thighs.
The Exercise Factor
A study published in "Obesity" journal in 2009 followed 97 women who lost weight on a restricted-calorie diet. One group performed aerobic exercise, another group performed strength training and another group performed no exercise at all. A year later, exercisers in both groups who maintained their routines regained less than 1 percent of the lost visceral fat. The non-exercisers gained 38 percent of it back. And the exercise groups worked out just twice a week for 40 minutes per session.
Not only does aerobic exercise fight visceral fat, it shreds calories for weight loss and boosts heart and lung health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio per week, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Moderate cardio includes casual cycling, brisk walking, doubles tennis or mowing your lawn. If you prefer vigorous cardio, just 75 minutes per week is enough. Try running, heavy cycling or swimming laps. For even better results, perform 300 minutes of moderate cardio or 150 minutes of vigorous cardio per week.
Add muscle-building activities to your routine at least twice weekly. Although there is no such thing as spot reduction -- meaning situps have no direct effect on belly fat -- the physical activity does lower visceral fat levels and tone your muscles. Work all muscle groups, including back, chest, arms, stomach hips and legs. You can lift weights or perform body-weight exercises such as pushups and squats. Yoga also makes an excellent choice, plus has an added anti-stress factor -- high stress levels are linked to visceral fat.
Visceral Fat Dangers
Visceral fat does more than widen your waist; it's also linked to diabetes, heart disease, asthma and breast cancer. A waistline of 35 inches or larger indicates unhealthy visceral fat levels. In addition to exercise, combat visceral fat with a balanced diet that's low in trans fats and fructose-sweetened products. It may also help to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.