Staying Healthy

Add weight training to control belly fat, say Harvard researchers


Images: Thinkstock

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.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Sign Up
Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.