Weight Training the Key to Curbing Belly Fat
The "muffin top" is a part of the body that's infamous for being hard to get rid of, but new research shows that weight training, at least for men, may be the key to curbing this belly fat.
According to the study published in the appropriately-named journal Obesity, healthy men who did 20 minutes of daily weight training gained less age-related abdominal fat compared with men who spent the same amount of time doing aerobic activities.
Previous studies had explored the link between weight training and weight gain before, but they focused on too specific a target population (e.g. overweight or with type 2 diabetes) and were of short duration. But this latest study by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) was both long-term and involved a large sample of healthy men with a wide range of body max indexes (BMI).
"Because aging is associated with sarcopenia, the loss of skeletal muscle mass, relying on body weight alone is insufficient for the study of healthy aging," lead author Rania Mekary said in a press release. "Measuring waist circumference is a better indicator of healthy body composition among older adults. Engaging in resistance training or, ideally, combining it with aerobic exercise could help older adults lessen abdominal fat while increasing or preserving muscle mass."
Mekary and colleagues studied 10,500 healthy US men, age 40 and over, looking at their physical activity, waist circumference (in centimeters), and body weight over a 12-year period.
They found that those who spent an extra 20 minutes a day in weight training had less gain in their waistline (-0.67 cm) compared with men who similarly increased the amount of time they spent on moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise (-0.33 cm), and yard work or stair climbing (-0.16 cm).
Those who increased their sedentary behaviors, such as TV watching, predictably had a larger gain in their waistline.
"This study underscores the importance of weight training in reducing abdominal obesity, especially among the elderly," said senior author Frank Hu. "To maintain a healthy weight and waistline, it is critical to incorporate weight training with aerobic exercise."
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