Gaining weight around your stomach area can lead to a negative self image, but it's also quite dangerous. According to The Mayo Clinic, putting on excess pounds around your middle puts you at a higher risk for heart disease, sleep apnea and Type 2 diabetes, among other conditions. A 2011 study from Duke University showed that while strength training will eventually do the trick, reducing belly fat is most quickly accomplished through regular aerobic exercise.
Setting a Target
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. Workouts like jogging and dancing are moderate activities, while running and jumping rope are vigorous exercises. You don't have to do hard workouts or long sessions to reduce belly fat. According to the Duke study, whether you choose moderate- or vigorous-intensity exercises, a regular aerobic routine can burn fat and reduce your belly size.
Establishing long-term healthy eating habits is also essential to trimming excess belly fat. Avoid foods high in fat -- especially trans and saturated fats -- and focus on adding whole grains, fruits and dark green and orange vegetables.
Walking and Running
Walking can improve your health and even play a role in helping you lose fat around the stomach area. According to Dr. Edward Laskowski of the Mayo Clinic, shorter, more-frequent workouts produce similar results to those that are longer and more spread out through the week.
As your body gets into better shape, start to transition to a more vigorous activity like running. The more vigorous the activity, the quicker it burns away excess fat. If you're new to aerobic exercise, start with a 10- to 15-minute run a couple of times a week. For an activity to count as aerobic exercise, you should go for at least 10 minutes without stopping.
While swimming may work the abs to some extent, its main function in helping you lose belly fat is simply by burning excess calories. Swimming laps is a vigorous-intensity workout, while water aerobics usually fall under the moderate-intensity category. Swimming as an aerobic exercise can take some getting used to. Taking breaks every 10 minutes or so will help.
Riding a bicycle will allow you to get outside, run some errands and burn away excess fat. A moderate-intensity exercise, cycling can help you trim stomach fat while enjoying a scenic trail in the woods. During cold months, an exercise bike is a relatively inexpensive indoor substitute. Many indoor bikes also give you a rough estimate of the calories that you're burning while you ride.
You don't have to do aerobic exercise in the gym. Everything from chores like mowing the lawn to a night of dancing can contribute to burning away extra belly fat. At-home activities like hula hooping and jumping rope burn calories in a hurry, while team sports like soccer and basketball provide competitive play to get your mind off the burn you're feeling. You can also start with something a little less vigorous like singles tennis or rollerblading.
In addition to exercising, reduce the number of calories you eat. One pound of fat contains 3,500 calories. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests that you reduce your food consumption by 500 to 1,000 calories per day for weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week.
The amount of calories that each activity will burn depends on factors like your weight and the intensity of your workout. A calorie counter -- like one provided by Ace Fitness -- will help you gain a rough of estimate of calories you burn for each workout.