Harvard Health Letter

Add weight training to control belly fat, say Harvard researchers

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Aerobic exercise is not enough to fight belly fat, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health. They say that weight training is also key to fighting the battle of the bulge. Researchers analyzed physical activity, weight, and waist circumference data for more than 10,000 men ages 40 and older, and found that healthy men who did 20 minutes of daily weight training had less of an increase in age-related abdominal fat compared with men who spent the same amount of time doing aerobic activities. Aerobic exercise alone was associated with less weight gain compared with weight training. The best results came from combining weight training and aerobic activity. The findings were published online Dec. 22, 2014, in Obesity. "Engaging in weight training or, ideally, combining it with aerobic exercise could help older adults lessen abdominal fat while increasing or preserving muscle mass," says Dr. Rania Mekary, the study's lead author and a researcher in Harvard's Department of Nutrition.

Abdominal fat is linked to heart disease, diabetes, bone loss, and decreased bone strength. You can fight back by aiming for the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week and starting a weight-training program if your doctor approves.

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