Young women who carry excess belly fat have an increased risk of many health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer later in life. Belly fat is a problem for many young women, who may have difficulty sticking to a healthy exercise program due to the time constraints of college, new motherhood and starting a career. Cardiovascular exercise is a vital addition to your exercise routine because it burns calories, helping you drop unwanted weight around your middle. Talk to your doctor before beginning a new workout schedule.
Engage in cardiovascular exercise for at least 150 minutes each week. Cardiovascular exercise increases your heart rate and burns calories, making it ideal for getting rid of belly fat. However, the guidelines are generally geared toward women at a healthy weight and you may need to increase your exercise time to as much as 300 minutes each week for weight loss. Walking, swimming, cycling, dancing and organized sports are good options.
Exercise at a moderate intensity. This elevates your heart rate to a level that induces calorie burn and belly fat loss. At this intensity, you'll feel slightly winded, but will still be able to talk to someone near you.
Spread your exercise sessions out throughout the week. This offers more benefit than doing it all at once because your body will be continually challenged throughout the week, keeping your metabolism revved for calorie burning. This is also beneficial for women who have trouble blocking out a 30- to 60-minute chunk of time for exercise. Do several 10- to 15-minute workouts each day to reap the same belly-fat-blasting benefits.
Lose weight slowly. The Mayo Clinic recommends losing 1 to 2 pounds per week. This may be frustrating as you attempt to get rid of belly fat, but a slow and gradual weight loss is more conducive to keeping the weight off once you reach your goal.
Add strength-training moves that target your belly to your routine two to three times per week. These exercises don't burn fat like cardiovascular ones do, but they help tone and define the muscles in your stomach. Planks, crunches, squats, knee tucks and trunk rotations are good choices. Any exercises that require balance are also good for challenging your core muscles. Do 15 to 20 repetitions at each session.
Keep an exercise journal. Record each of your workouts and your current weight. This helps you see what types of exercise work best for you and holds you personally accountable for making sure you exercise regularly.
- Keep in mind that you can't target only your belly for fat loss. As you exercise, your body uses the fat stores throughout your body, so you may notice a reduction elsewhere before you see a significant loss in your belly.
- While exercise is important for weight loss, cutting calories from your diet is also vital. You'll undo the benefits of your workout if you don't watch your calorie intake at the same time.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.