The core encompasses the hips, abdominals, back and chest. Fat in the core area, particularly in the abdominal area, can increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Losing fat and building strength in the core can help improve your balance, stability, posture and reduce the risk of back problems. However, core exercises won't burn away the fat. To get rid of core fat, you need to do cardiovascular, or cardio, exercise. For the fastest results, combine exercise with a healthy diet.
Engage in an active lifestyle. Exercising isn't the only way to burn fat and calories. Taking the stairs, parking away from your destination and walking, and participating in playful fun such as bike riding or kite flying, burn fat as well.
Talk with your doctor about your weight loss goals before starting an exercise and diet program.
Do 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three days a week. Cardio exercise -- any exercise that gets your heart and lungs to work harder -- will burn fat throughout your body, including in your core. However, activities such as rowing, off-road running and kickboxing burn fat while also building core muscles.
Engage in 30 minutes of interval training two non-consecutive days a week. Interval training, which involves alternating between high and low intensity, burns more fat in less time than just doing straight cardio. However, because it takes a toll on the body, you should only train in intervals twice a week. You can apply interval training to many activities including running, bicycling, plyometrics and rowing. You can use speed or incline to adjust intensity -- and you can vary your interval lengths vary from 30 seconds to two minutes. For example, you can alternate between jogging and sprinting or alternate between running on flat ground and hills.
Perform Pilates twice a week for core strength training. Developed by Joseph Pilates for rehabilitation purposes, Pilates focuses on developing core strength and stability. The core ab exercises are more effective at sculpting strong abs than crunches, according to IDEA, a fitness certification organization. To work the abs, do a rollup by lying on the floor with your arms extended overhead. Lift your arms, head and shoulders, rolling up until you are sitting. Reach your hands forward toward your toes, then reverse, rolling back to the start position. During the rollup, keep your legs on the floor. If you can't roll all the way up, bend your knees slightly.
Eat a nutritious, low-calorie diet. Cutting processed and junk food is the fastest way to reduce calories. Switching to skim milk and low-fat dairy cuts calories as well. But don't reduce your calories too low or your metabolism may slow down. Women need at least 1,200, and men 1,800, calories a day, but these amounts may be higher depending on your weight and activity level. Make your calories count by eating lean proteins, whole grains and fruits or vegetables with every meal.
- Kinetic Spine and Sports: FAQ About Core Muscles
- Harvard Medical School: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It
- Harvard Medical School: The Real-World Benefits of Strengthening Your Core
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physcial Activity Do Adults Need?
- Science Daily; Interval Training Burns More Fat, Increases Fitness, Study Finds
- IDEA: Pilates Exercise: Lessons From the Lab
- iSport: How to Do The Roll Up in Pilates
- BMI Calculator: Calorie Needs to Lose Weight
- Weight Control Information Network: What Is a Healthy Eating Plan?
Leslie Truex has been telecommuting and freelancing since 1994. She wrote the "The Work-At-Home Success Bible" and is a career/business and writing instructor at Piedmont Virginia Community College. Truex has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Willamette University and a Master of Social Work from California State University-Sacramento. She has been an Aerobics and Fitness Association of America certified fitness instructor since 2001.