pot, your breadbasket, your bay window, your spare tire or good old middle-aged
spread, but if you’re carrying extra weight around your gut – even if you’re
not very overweight overall – you could be in danger of serious health
problems. It could affect your heart, your bones, your knees…and your sex life.
abdominal obesity, is a particularly menacing type of fat located deep under
muscle tissue in the abdominal cavity surrounding the abdominal organs.
“Women tend to put on weight in their hips and thighs, but when men put on
weight, it tends to go right to the gut,” says Jim White, RD, spokesperson for
the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and an American College of Sports
Medicine-certified health fitness specialist.
away belly fat, and how to do it best.
heart Wrap a tape measure around your
middle at about the level of your belly button. Don’t pull too tightly. If your
waist measures over 40 inches (or 35 inches for a woman), you are at increased
risk of unhealthy levels of blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and
pre-diabetes, according to the American Heart Association. Visceral fat is
strongly associated with insulin resistance (an inability of the body to use
insulin to convert food into energy) and high levels of triglycerides (a type
of dangerous fat in blood). Excess visceral fat has also been linked with
increased risk for heart disease including upping your risk for heart attack
bones In men, more belly fat can equal
weaker bones, according to a Harvard study presented at a recent meeting the
Radiological Society of North America. The researchers did CT scans to take
abdominal fat and muscle measurements in men with an average age of 34 and to
measure bone strength in forearm bones. They found that overall body mass index
(BMI) and age didn’t play into how strong the men’s bones were, but that belly
fat did. The more belly fat a man had, the lower his score on tests of bone
strength. In contrast, the higher his scores on muscle mass measures, the
stronger his bones were.
joints and back Your
back aches and your knees are weak? Blame your belly fat. That extra weight in
front of your body puts pressure on your back, possibly leading to back strain
and pain. And every extra pound around your belly puts an extra four pounds of
pressure on your knees with every step you take – or an extra 4,800 pounds for
every mile you walk. The good news? Losing 11 pounds reduces your risk of knee
arthritis by 50 percent, according to data from the Framingham Heart Study.
sex life Don’t let your big belly come between
you and your significant other! Being overweight raises your risk of restricted
blood flow to the penis, making erectile dysfunction more likely. Belly fat can
lower your levels of the sex hormone testosterone, too. “Testosterone, which is
made in the testicles, is broken down in the fat cells of the body, but
particularly in belly fat,” says Harry Fisch, M.D., author of the book, The
Male Biological Clock: The Startling News About Aging and Fertility in Men and
clinical professor of urology and reproductive medicine at Weill-Cornell
Medical College in New York. “Studies show the bigger the waist, the lower the
fat? Lose weight overall. “You can’t spot reduce. Unfortunately just doing a
lot of stomach crunches alone isn’t going to do it,” says White. He recommends
a three-pronged approach:
- Exercise at least 30 minutes every day
- Practice weight training a couple days a week
- Eating a healthy diet.
down your midsection and reduce your health risks. “Vary your activities – swim
one day, jog another, play tennis or golf on a third, for example,” says White.
“That will not only to help you lose visceral fat but will reduce exercise
boredom and overuse injuries, and help you get in shape overall.” Check with
your doctor before starting a new exercise plan to make sure increased physical
activity is safe for you, and if it is, get moving!