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How does exercise help reduce abdominal fat?

Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics

Abdominal or visceral fat is considered the most dangerous type of fat, as it tends to surround vital organs. Individuals with higher amounts of visceral fat are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and heart disease. According to research regular exercise can keep visceral fat a bay. Exercise promotes a change in body composition, which may help to reduce abdominal fat while promoting lean body mass.

Exercise can help reduce fat throughout the entire body. Whether focusing on your abdominal region or not, by being active and eating right, you will be able to lose weight and decrease inches. We all lose weight in certain areas and if much of your fat is stored around your midsection then being active and eating right should help to shed away unwanted fat.

Be sure to focus on the amount of calories burned. In order to lose fat, you must burn 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat.

It is important to understand that one cannot "spot train"; perform exercises to reduce fat in certain areas.  An exercise program coupled with reduced calorie healthy nutrition will decrease overall body fat.  The number of calories consumed (eaten) must be less than the number of calories burned during the day, both from normal activity and exercise.  To increase the number of calories you burn, increase the length of time you exercise or the intensity of your workouts. 
A revealing study from Duke University evaluated the effects of varying amounts and intensities of exercise in sedentary overweight men and women. Duke researchers found that in study participants who did not exercise, visceral fat rapidly accumulated deep in the subjects’ abdomens and their waist size increased. In contrast, the participants who exercised using a treadmill, elliptical trainer, or stationary bicycle had significant declines in abdominal fat.
Over time, the participants who did not exercise experienced an 8.6 percent increase in abdominal fat over eight months. The exercising participants had an 8.1 percent decrease in abdominal fat.
 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.