Battle Belly Fat With Weight Training

Posted by Hilary Young on December 29, 2014

Battle Belly Fat With Weight Training

With weight loss high on everyone’s list of Resolutions for the New Year, new research out of the Harvard School of Public Health might help to get you to your goal weight more quickly in 2015.  For now, however, the results of their study seem to only apply to men, but there’s bound to be a follow up study that applies to women in the near future.

Weight Training to Battle Belly Fat

The study, which was published in the December 2015 journal, Obesity, found that men who include a steady weight training regimen into their fitness routine will see a marked drop in belly fat.  Researchers with Harvard’s School of Public Health analyzed the physical activity, waist circumference and body weight of 10,500 men aged 40 and over throughout a 12 year period.

They monitored and tracked the men’s daily fitness routine and found that those who incorporated at least 20 minutes of weight training into their workout on a daily basis saw a lesser weight gain, particularly around their waist, than those who increased the amount of their aerobic exercise.  Not surprisingly, those who increased their sedentary behaviors, like watching TV or using the computer, had the largest gain in the circumference of their waist.

“This study underscores the importance of weight training in reducing abdominal obesity, especially among the elderly,” said Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH and senior author of the study. “To maintain a healthy weight and waistline, it is critical to incorporate weight training with aerobic exercise.”

The Importance of Weight Training With Age

Lead study author, researcher in Harvard’s School Public Health Department of Nutrition and assistant professor of social and administrative sciences at the School of Pharmacy of MCPHS University, Reina Mekary, believes that weight training is an essential component to aging healthfully.

“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,” said Ms. Mekary.  “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.”

Sarcopenia is a natural occurrence of muscle loss that begins for most of us in our 30’s.  For people who are physically inactive, sarcopenia can cause a loss of 3%-5% of their overall muscle mass per decade.  Remaining active and building a weight training routine can help to combat this debilitating muscle loss, especially since sarcopenia begins to accelerate around age 75.  According to WebMD, sarcopenia is the cause of many falls and fractures in people over the age of 65.

Experts from WebMD also suggest that research has demonstrated that “a program of progressive resistance training exercises can increase protein synthesis rates in older adults in as little as two weeks.”

New Year’s Resolutions

The research doesn’t lie: adding regular weight training or resistance exercises to your fitness routine can help you stay slim and feeling young.  If you need some help jump starting a new fitness routine for the new year, enlist a family member or friend to join you.  It’s always easier to stay motivated and accountable when you are depending on the buddy system.


TAGS: weight training weight loss