Belly fat is found deep in the stomach that surrounds the internal organs, as opposed to subcutaneous fat that is found underneath the skin. It poses more of a threat to health, as it lies closer to the organs and is associated with diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
Aerobic exercise is better for losing belly fat because it burns more calories and is more beneficial for obese and overweight individuals.
Aerobic literally means “living in air” and refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism. Generally, light-to-moderate intensity activities that are sufficiently supported by aerobic metabolism can be performed for extended periods of time.
When researchers monitored people who did aerobics for eight months, compared to those who did just weight lifting, the former group lost almost 20 times as much fat around their stomachs. The aerobics group lost around 2.5 square inches of belly fat, and a group that combined both aerobic and weight lifting lost only 1.5 square inches.
Researcher Cris Slentz at Duke University in North Carolina, USA, who undertook the study, said: ‘Resistance training is great for improving strength and increasing lean body mass. ‘But aerobic exercise is better for losing belly fat because it burns more calories.’
The study also concluded that those who combined weight lifting and aerobics didn’t see any further health benefits than those who only did aerobic, in terms of insulin resistance and liver fat, Live Science reported. The researchers therefore found that aerobic exercise alone is more beneficial for obese and overweight individuals.
Researchers defined ‘belly fat’ as visceral fat. Visceral fat poses more of a threat to health, as it lies closer to the organs and is associated with diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
The study at Duke University, which will be published in the American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism, looked at 196 overweight, sedentary adults between the ages of 18 and 70, who were divided into the three exercise groups.
Mr Slentz added: ‘When it comes to increased health risks, where fat is deposited in the body is more important than how much fat you have. ‘What really counts is how much exercise you do, how many miles you walk and how many calories you burn.
“If you choose to walk at a lower aerobic intensity, it will simply take longer to burn the same amount of unhealthy fat.”