Weights More Effective Than Cardio at Fending Off Stomach Fat

Man Lifting Weights at the Gym
Matthew Leete / Getty Images

Gym junkies, this is the research you’ve been waiting for: Weight training whittles down stomach fat (and keeps it off) better than aerobic exercise. So keep clanking those weights, and let beer bellies be bygones.

According to a 2014 Harvard School of Public Health study, published in the journal Obesity, lifting is more effective for maintaining a flat stomach than running or cycling, especially for middle-aged men, the Huffington Post reports.

Researchers studied the physical activity, waist circumference, and bodyweight of nearly 11,000 healthy American men age 40 and over. After comparing the participants’ change in activity levels over a 12-year period, they analyzed which activities had the greatest effect on their waistlines.

Men who spent 20 minutes of daily weight training gained less abdominal fat as they aged, compared with men who spent the same time hitting the pavement or pushing pedals. The key, though, is not to become sedentary after losing the weight.

A new study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows that nonexercise activity thermogenesis—a measure of how much energy people use to stand, walk to their car, and simply move around—often declines after weight loss. And this increase in N.E.A.T. is most common in those who weight train.

Weight training after weight loss prompts people to move more throughout the day. As a result, they burn more calories, and should thwart weight regain with the help of a disciplined diet.

Throw some yard work, stair climbing, and moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise into your weight-training routine and you’ll keep a svelte stomach well into your golden years.

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