Guest Author - Deborah Crawford
Do you long for a smaller mid-section?
Is your waist your “problem area”, the place you gain weight?
As you’ve gotten older, has your tummy-size increased?
Storing fat in your belly area can mean you are headed for many health problems. There are two kinds of belly fat: subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous is the fat just under the skin (which is what subcutaneous means). It is the fat you can pinch.
The visceral, or hidden, fat is deeper inside your tummy. It is called the omentum and is located next to your stomach. This is where your body parks excess fat. This fat is more dangerous than the fat under your skin. Your omentum is somewhat determined by heredity, but even more so by your lifestyle. Plus, chronic stress increases your production of cortisol, a hormone which enables your omentum to store even more fat.
There is an increased risk of several diseases such as heart disease, breast cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, colorectal cancer, sleep apnea, joint problems and others when you have large amounts of belly fat, particularly because this fat increases inflammation within the body. Inflammation leads to many health problems and diseases.
Aging, inactivity, and over-eating as well as chronic stress can cause this build up of fat in your abdomen. Experts recommend that you measure your waist size and keep it 33 inches or less for women, no matter what your weight. (For men, the goal is 36 inches or less.)
Many factors can help you reduce belly fat, including eating better foods, getting adequate sleep, reducing stress, building muscle, and of course, aerobic exercise like walking.
To walk off belly fat:
Start by measuring your waist. You’ll want to measure slightly above your belly button and under your ribcage. Suck in your tummy and measure with the tape held pretty tight. If you measure by pulling the tape tight every time to get your smallest possible measurement, it is easier to be consistent. If you measure where it only feels comfortably tight, like when measuring for pants, your measurements will likely be more inconsistent over time.
Then, walk 30 minutes every day. One easy way to start is to take three 10-minute walks. Or, just head out your door and walk for 15 minutes, then turn around and come back. Alternately, walk in front of your television for thirty minutes. A walking DVD can help.
Then, once you get used to walking 30 minutes a day, if you still wish to lose more weight, consider adding intervals or a weekly long walk to your program to keep your body from “settling” into your routine, or reaching a weight loss plateau.
Reducing chronic stress is somewhat tricky because often we do not even know we are experiencing it. It’s not the kind of stress you feel when the phone rings in the middle of the night, or you have a car accident. It’s the stress you might not register when you watch the evening news or when your boss makes sarcastic remarks or have financial troubles. It’s the things you tolerate, the things that annoy you. Being in a not terrible but not fulfilling relationship can cause it, too. Heck, just dealing with modern life is chronically stressful!
Walking also helps with stress. It gets feel-good chemicals circulating and helps sweep some of the bad ones away. Plus, it can tire you out and help you sleep better.
Last, adding two or three strength-training sessions per week will help you build muscle and burn more calories, thereby reducing your belly fat even more.
More resources to help you lose your belly fat:
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