Weekly Wellness: How can I get rid of belly fat?

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COLUMBIA — When I meet with new clients, I ask them about their fitness and wellness goals. What are their overall goals? What are they hoping to achieve? I would say that a good 75 percent or more will generally point to their belly and say "I want to get rid of this."

Belly fat. Such a source of frustration to so many people.

Let's pretend that you have just asked me the same question... this is my answer:

What is happening around your belly generally has to do with what you are putting in your mouth (food and drink).

With that said, there are exercises and activities that you can perform that will help a lot. (And, no, they are not crunches or sit-ups.)

About 50 percent of a person's body fat is located directly beneath the skin. The rest is located inside and under the muscles. Doing crunches is not going to get rid of this fat. You can have stronger abdominal muscles UNDER the layer of fat. True story.

The best way to decrease your belly fat is to perform cardiovascular exercises (i.e. walking, jogging, swimming, aerobics, bicycling, etc.). Any activity that increases your heart rate into its training zone and keeps it there for at least 20 minutes. And you need to perform your cardio activity a minimum of five times a week (for a total of 30 - 45 minutes).

You can also make your body a more effective and efficient fat burner by strength training and increasing muscle mass. Focus on the larger muscle groups (i.e. Front and back of thighs, buttocks, back, chest, triceps and biceps, calves, hips, forearms, shoulders).

Muscle burns calories to exist! So the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns (even when you're just sitting still). Win-win!

Make sure you strength train at least three times a week.

If you don't know how to strength train, contact your gym or fitness facility and speak to a certified personal trainer. Getting help from a professional is a great way to start a safe workout program.

(Source: http://www.bodybuilding.com/content/the-truth-how-to-burn-abdominal-fat.html)