Aerobic exercise is your best bet when it comes to losing that dreaded belly fat, a new study from Duke University Medical Center finds.
When Duke researchers conducted a head-to-head comparison of aerobic exercise, resistance training, and a combination of the two, they found aerobic exercise to be the most efficient and most effective way to lose belly fat.
Learn more: Exercise Makes Cells Younger
Belly Fat Raises Risk of Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Cancer
This isn’t the fat that lies just under your skin.
Belly or abdominal fat – known as visceral fat and liver fat — is located deep within the abdominal cavity and fills the spaces between internal organs.
Belly fat been associated with increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and certain kinds of cancer.
"When it comes to increased health risks, where fat is deposited in the body is more important than how much fat you have," says Duke exercise physiologist Cris Slentz, Ph.D., lead author of the study published in the American Journal of Physiology. "Our study sought to identify the most effective form of exercise to get rid of that unhealthy fat."
Aerobics Reduces Fat Better than Resistance Training
The Duke study showed aerobic training significantly reduced visceral fat and liver fat, the culprit in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Aerobic exercise also did a better job than resistance training at improving fasting insulin resistance, and reducing liver enzymes and fasting triglyceride levels. All are known risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.
In the study, resistance training achieved no significant reductions in visceral fat, liver fat, liver enzyme levels or improvements in insulin resistance. The combination of aerobic with resistance training achieved results similar to aerobic training alone.
"Resistance training is great for improving strength and increasing lean body mass," says Slentz. "But if you are overweight, which two thirds of the population is, and you want to lose belly fat, aerobic exercise is the better choice because it burns more calories."
Aerobic training burned 67% more calories in the study when compared to resistance training.
While the training programs were substantial, Slentz says their previous research leads him to believe similar results could be achieved with a more moderate aerobic exercise program.
"What really counts is how much exercise you do, how many miles you walk and how many calories you burn," he says. "If you choose to work at a lower aerobic intensity, it will simply take longer to burn the same amount of unhealthy fat."
Spread the Health by forwarding this article to your friends and family, and sharing on Facebook.
Reference: American Journal of Physiology. Published Online August 10, 2011.
“The Effects of Aerobic versus Resistance Training on Visceral and Liver Fat Stores, Liver Enzymes and HOMA from STRRIDE AT/RT: A Randomized Trial,” Cris A. Slentz et al.
Author Affiliations: Duke University Medical Center, East Carolina University, Duke University Medical School