There's plenty of research to support the fat-burning benefits of weight lifting. But a new study recently revealed that lifting weights may be our best bet when it comes to the one area where we struggle with burning fat the most: our bellies.
Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently found that weight training may be the most effective exercise for reducing belly fat.
According to the Harvard Gazette, the study lead by Rania Mekary, a researcher in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition and published in Obesity, examined data from the “Health Professionals Follow-Up Study”, which recorded the physical activity levels, waist circumference, and body weight of 10,500 healthy U.S. men age 40 and older from 1996 to 2008.
Mekary and her team focused on analyzing the subjects’ activity levels to see what types of exercise had the greatest impact on their waist circumference over the course of the 12-year period.
The results revealed that when compared with participants who increased time spent on different types of aerobic exercise (including yard work and stair climbing), the men who increased the time they spent training with weights by a similar amount (about 20 minutes a day) gained less weight in their waist.
“This study underscores the importance of weight training in reducing abdominal obesity, especially among the elderly,” Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH and senior author of the study said in the Harvard Gazette. “To maintain a healthy weight and waistline, it is critical to incorporate weight training with aerobic exercise.”
Of course, many exercisers are after a flat belly for aesthetic reasons, but in addition to revealing the importance of weight training for achieving a specific physique, because abdominal fat is associated with several serious health risks the results also reveal that weight training is an important part of maintaining good overall health.