The exercise that helps men manage that late life belly bulge

As soon as middle age hits, men and women face a noble yet notoriously difficult battle worthy of an entire Game of Thrones episode — the battle of the belly bulge.

No matter how many carbs you cut or miles you walk, those fat cells gang up on your midsection faster than the White Walkers descended upon Winterfell (okay, that’s the last Game of Thrones reference).

Why else are there entire book categories, supplement sections and exercise contraptions devoted to banishing belly fat? It’s a nearly universal problem among middle-aged folks…and it doesn’t go away on its own.

If you don’t keep belly fat in check, it accumulates and accumulates…. until one day you’re 70 years old with a belly bulge that would put Homer Simpson to shame and a scary heart disease and cancer risk to go with it.

But if you’ve already let your belly fat spiral out of control as you’ve gotten older, don’t fret. There’s a workout routine can take a bite out of belly fat right now…

HIIT does the trick for belly fat in men

A new study from researchers at Umeå University in Sweden and the Arctic University of Norway found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can help older men manage their belly bulge.

The study included a group of 72 men and women, who were about 70 years old. Half of these people participated in a 10-week HIIT program, while the other half maintained their normal living and exercise routines.

People in the program decreased their overall fat mass by an average of two pounds. They also gained an average of one pound lean body mass…. a great result by any measure. But for men, there was a bonus…

Men lost a bunch of belly fat too. Unfortunately, women didn’t have the same luck battling the belly bulge with HIIT. If you’re a man looking to manage that midlife midsection man spread, however, HIIT may be the solution you’re searching for.

Banishing that bounce from your belly with HIIT

In case you’re not familiar with HIIT, it’s a type of interval training where you alternate between short bouts of high-intensity aerobic exercise and lower-intensity rest periods. Research shows that HIIT helps you burn more calories in less time and increases your metabolic rate (how many calories you’re burning) for hours after you’re done exercising.

How can you use HIIT to burn belly fat like the men in the study?

Related: The 3-minute HIIT that shapes you up

Well, in the study, researchers had participants do HIIT workouts three times per week for 10 weeks. Participants started by doing bodyweight exercises (no equipment) for 18 minutes, alternating between 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest. Eventually, they worked their way up to 36 minutes of exercise per workout session.

Sounds simple enough, right?

If you’re ready to dip your toes into the world of HIIT right away, I recommend the YouTube videos created by Fitness Blender, a husband and wife team of personal trainers. They offer fantastic HIIT workouts of different lengths and for people of different fitness levels. Check them out and take the first step toward a bit less bounce in your belly.

Sources:

  1. How interval training affects ‘belly fat’ in obese 70-year-olds — MedicalXpress
  2. Effects of Interval Training on Visceral Adipose Tissue in Centrally Obese 70‐Year‐Old Individuals: A Randomized Controlled TrialJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
  3. Belly fat in men: Why weight loss matters — Mayo Clinic
  4. Abdominal fat and what to do about it — Harvard Health Publishing
  5. 7 Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) — Healthline
  6. 8 Reasons HIIT Workouts are So Effective — American Council on Exercise
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.