Will you be fighting pudge in the new year? According to a recent study, your best bet is to lose belly fat with weight training, not cardio. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health examined data on over ten thousand men of healthy weight who had been tracked for 12 years. Study participants who increased their time spent on weight training saw their abdominal measurements creep up significantly more slowly than the participants who upped their time spent on cardio. Since weight creep is a huge threat to our health as we age (and it sneaks up on adults sooner than you'd think), this is critical info.
Starting a weight training regimen can be intimidating, but it's easier to learn now than when you're already on the older side. And although it makes sense in theory that you'd lose fat around the muscles you're exercising most, scientists have long know that targeted fat loss doesn't work – it's just a gimmick to sell you weight-loss videos. Muscles can't run on the triglycerides that make up body fat, so the fat must first be metabolized, broken down, and redistributed through the bloodstream. That means the fat you burn during exercise can come from basically anywhere in your body.
You should want to lose abdominal fat in particular, though: excess belly fat is associated with heart disease, cancer, and more. Although men tend to accumulate more fat in their abdomens than women, the situation seems to even out between the genders after women go through menopause and produce less belly fat-protective estrogen. Pre-menopausal women carrying belly fat may have a harder time getting pregnant.
So if trimming down around the waist is one of your goals for the new year, skip all the gimmicky cleanses and supplements and march yourself straight to the weight room. Even if you don't manage to trim every last smidgen of belly fat, adding those weights will likely do more for you than pure cardio, and weight training can reduce your risk of osteoporosis besides. Here's to a strong 2015!
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