Belly fat is probably the hardest to lose of all the fat deposits in the body. It seems to be the favorite place for fat cells to congregate within the body.
As you age, the abdominal area accepts more deposits and is very resistant when you try to make a withdrawal. The older you get, the harder it is to lose weight, especially in areas where the body tends to hold on to fat cells with everything it’s got.
When it comes to your abdomen, your body tends to accumulate both visceral fat and subcutaneous fat:
- Visceral fat accumulates next to your organs and can cause your belly to protrude outward
- Subcutaneous fat, on the other hand, is the jiggly pudge that tends to gather around your hips
Of both types of fat, visceral fat should be of the most concern. Because it is more centralized, it tends to increase your risk of certain types of cancers and Type 2 Diabetes. While burning off both types of fat is important, eliminating the visceral fat offers the most health benefits.
Keep in Mind:
Before starting any new exercise(s), we strongly recommend you follow the advice of the National Institute on Aging and consult your doctor.
Why Do Seniors Gain Belly Fat?
The weight gain/loss formula for seniors is much the same as it is for anyone else. You gain weight when you consume more calories than you burn throughout the day. As a person gets older, they tend to slow down and become less active. They exercise less and try to relax more. For women, that poses a problem. After menopause, their body begins to function somewhat differently. Hormone production decreases and they have less energy as their metabolism begins to slow down.
Both men and women can suffer from genetic traits that cause them to gain weight around their midsections. Body type also has a lot to do with how a person (male or female) gains and loses weight. Some people tend to gain weight around their hips and lower back, others in the abdomen and waist. As a person ages, the weight becomes harder to lose. Part of the reason for this is that the older we get, the more the body tries to conserve the fat that it has. Fat holds heat and acts as a cushion around the organs. The problem is, too much fat of either kind can increase a person’s risk of many of the most severe forms of disease known. This includes cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
Benefits of Belly Fat Exercises
Carrying extra belly fat isn’t healthy. As you age, the rate at which lipids turnover (or die and are replaced) dramatically slows down. With fewer lipid cells dying off and more being added as the body’s metabolism slows down, it’s easy to pack on those unwanted pounds. When the weight starts gathering around your organs, it can put pressure on them. Blood flow to your organs is restricted by the excess weight, depriving them of much-needed nutrients.
While any type of exercise will help you burn calories, exercises for the abdomen and core areas will help you target the stubborn visceral fat that is so hard to get rid of. The combination of cardio exercise and belly fat exercises helps break down the fat deposits that are centered around your organs and flush them away. In addition to eliminating the fatty deposits, these exercises strengthen the abdominal muscles that support the organs.
It’s important to remember that when you are building muscle, don’t let the number on the scales get to you. Muscle weighs more than fat. As the fat goes away and is replaced by muscle, your weight will go up slightly, not down.
Belly Fat Exercises
Belly fat exercises that combine cardio, strength training, and stretching provide you with all of the elements you need for effective weight loss. Losing weight the right way through proper diet and regular exercise makes it easier to keep the weight off permanently. The keys to making the most out of belly fat exercises are to do them regularly, do them often, and to challenge yourself to always continue to move forward.
Swimming is one of the most effective exercises a person can do at any age. The resistance that is created by moving through the water helps to tone every muscle, even those we may not normally think of when we exercise. If you include swimming in your exercise routine, remember to change it up frequently. Use different strokes. Swim at different speeds. Reach farther. Challenge yourself to do a few extra laps. Being in the water can be very relaxing. Take a few minutes and enjoy the time you spend in the water.
Brisk walking is an excellent exercise for strengthening your heart and improving your cardiovascular system. While this exercise may not directly affect the muscles of your belly, it does have an impact on how your body will burn calories. Improving circulation through your midsection nourishes your organs and carries away toxins and excess fat cells. Brisk walking once or twice a day may be just what you need to boost your metabolism.
Weight training is a great way to build strength and burn calories. Using specific exercises that target the abdominal region is the best way to tone the muscles in that area and start to break down the visceral fat deposits that lay next to your organs. Ab presses, as well as other exercises that target your core, will help you get the most out of this type of workout, especially if you are targeting stubborn belly fat.
Line dancing, salsa, ballroom dancing, or any other type of dance activity that heats up your core and stretches the abdominal muscles will help to burn calories in the belly region. The more you move, the more calories you burn. The best thing about dancing is that you can start at your own pace, Throw in a few slow songs to give yourself a short rest, and let yourself regain a steady rhythm. Dancing is fun and you can include family members of all ages. You can even do it while you are cleaning to speed up the process and keep you motivated.
Chair exercises are a great way to exercise, especially for seniors who may have mobility issues. The legs can be exercised as well without forcing them to bear the weight of the body. Being seated doesn’t mean the exercises will be ineffective. For individuals who have difficulty moving around, exercising from a seated position for a few weeks, may give them the strength they need to start exercising from a standing position.
Hand and Ankle Weights
Hand and ankle weights can turn almost any type of exercise into a strength training experience. Using hand weights while lifting and moving the arms will add small amounts of resistance that will help to strengthen the upper body.
Ankle weights can turn leg lifts or leg stretches into solid hip/core exercises that will start to target stubborn belly fat. Exercising a few minutes without the weights will act as a warm-up exercise so you get the most of the exercises you perform once you’ve added the weights.
Dancing is fun for everyone no matter their age. Even when mobility is an issue, it’s still fun to move to the rhythm and beat of the music. Stretch your hands high in the air and twist from side to side. Use your feet to trace the patterns of your favorite dance steps. Being seated does not limit you from expressing yourself through dance. Turn up the music and dance for awhile! It will do your body and your mind some good!
Stretching is one of the easiest of all exercises, but it is also one of the most beneficial. It breaks up stiffness in the joints, improves blood flow throughout the body, tones the muscles, strengthens the attachments of the ligaments and tendons, and allows you to breathe deeply. When it comes to range of motion and improved flexibility/mobility, stretching can make movements more fluid, extending your reach and reducing the stiffness you sometimes feel when you’ve been sitting for too long.
From a seated position, leg lifts are easy to perform. There are no balance issues and you can perform as many reps and sets as you want. You can lift one leg at a time or both. You can also do a combination of each to make things interesting. The key is to extend your leg(s) and lift until they are parallel to the floor. Hold for five to ten seconds, or longer. Then gradually lower back down. Do leg lifts in sets of ten to start. You can always raise the number when you start to get comfortable.
Yoga Exercises That Target Belly Fat
Yoga is all about control, breathing, and stretching the body within the breath. This may not seem like it does much for the body, but once you have completed a few of the exercises, you will definitely begin to notice a difference. Improved blood flow and increased flexibility are two of the most common benefits. After a week or two, you will begin to experience firmer, more toned muscle tissue as well.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
The Mountain Poses, or Tadasana, is a great way for improving circulation and warm-up. It targets the core and starts to get your body ready for other types of exercise.
Stand up with your feet together. Stretch your spine up and place your hands at your sides. Bring your hands to the front of your body, palms together and stretching your arms forward. As you breathe in, raise your hands above your body and reach toward the stars. If you can slowly lift your heels so you can stand on your toes. Hold for 30 seconds and release as you exhale. Repeat as many times as you feel comfortable with.
Padahastasana (Standing Forward Bend)
The Padahastasana, or Standing Forward Bend, benefits the heart and other organs in the chest and abdomen. It reduces stress and anxiety. This pose targets the abdominal muscles causing them to relax and soften. This encourages proper function of the organs within the abdominal cavity and may actually help to calm many health issues related to the stomach and intestines.
Paschimottanasan (Seated Forward Bend)
The Paschimottanasan, or Seated Forward Bend, targets your solar plexus region. Not only does it stretch the muscles in the hips and legs, it also tones the belly muscles, improving circulation and relieving stress on the stomach and other organs. By improving blood flow to the area, the core muscles become stronger and are better able to support the organs.
Sit-Ups for Belly Fat in Elderly Men
Sit-ups are about the worst exercise you can do if you want to tone and strengthen your stomach. Most experts say that they may actually do more harm than good. Instead, seniors are encouraged to do push-ups or other exercises that specifically target their core. Don’t stress your abdomen by doing exercises that don’t work. Everybody is different, so find what works and use it to your advantage.
Winning the Battle of the Bulge
As you get older, it may seem like it’s impossible to get rid of those unwanted pounds. If you want to eliminate unwanted belly fat, remember the weight loss formula ( calories in must be less than calories out) and find the exercises that work best for you. It’s your body and you will have to do the work, but you will eventually see results if you stick with your plan. For as stubborn as belly fat is, you can overcome it if you continue to follow a healthy exercise routine and commit to a healthy diet.