Abdominal Fat and Aging

 Do you find that as you get older your waistline is expanding? Little (or big) rolls of fat are starting to hang over your waistband? It never used to be this way. What is happening? I turned to Melissa Conte, a great personal trainer (and my cycling friend who has helped me with plenty of cycling injuries! ) for some advice.  (pic is of … well, no explanation needed!)


Question to Melissa:
What is going on with this issue of abdominal fat?

Answer from Melissa: As a personal trainer I frequently get asked the same question over and over by many women I work with; what can I do to decrease my seemingly expanding waistline?  Many people believe that gaining weight in your mid-section is an inevitable part of the aging process.  The good news is that implementing some positive lifestyle changes in your diet and exercise program can prevent and reverse belly bulge.

Gaining weight in the middle (besides being physically unpleasing on a purely superficial  level) is also the most dangerous place to gain bodyfat as we age.  It is not the subcutaneous fat we can grab between our fingers that matters.  It is the visceral fat we can’t see that surrounds our abdominal organs that presents the most harm to us.  Excess visceral fat increases our risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. 

Often times as we age we physically become more sedentary.  Adding daily aerobic exercise can help burn calories and increase your metabolism.  No time for a 30 minute walk?  Research shows that walking for 10 minutes 3 times a day can have the same health benefits.  We naturally lose 10% of our muscle mass per decade of our lives. Muscle mass is more metabolically active than fat.  Resistance weight training helps to build and maintain lean muscle.  The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.  Translation = less overall fat gain. WOMEN MUST LIFT WEIGHTS!  Make this your mantra.  You cannot spot reduce with sit-ups.  Core work can be integrated into every movement pattern while training your whole body.  We are all genetically predisposed to gain weight in different places.  Keep this in mind and set realistic goals appropriate for your individual bodytype.

Tips for losing abdominal fat:

-Diet is everything.  Eat lots of fruit, veggies, and lowfat protein.  Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol, sugary snacks, and empty calories.

-Do cardiovascular exercise to decrease overall bodyfat.

-Try adding these highly effective abdominal exercises to your training program

Abdominal bicycle: Lie on back, flex hips and knees to 90 degrees.  Raise shoulder blades off floor and place hands behind head.  Tap right knee with left elbow while extending opposite leg.  Immediately repeat toward the opposite side.

Crunch on exercise ball: Lie on exercise ball with hips and torso parallel to floor.  Place hands behind head and gently crunch up towards ceiling.  Focus on using your abdominal muscles to lift and do the work.  Do not pull on your neck with your hands.

Melissa Conte is a fitness expert with a Masters Degree is Exercise Physiology. She is currently living and working in New York City.  (pic is of Melissa)

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