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It seems like bodybuilder’s are ahead of their time when it comes to real world results.  If you go into any gym on January 1st there are tons of people on the treadmill to get back in shape, however according to new research, most people are on the wrong exercise equipment.   Measuring waist circumference is a better indicator of healthy body composition among older adults than standing on the scale.

Engaging in resistance training or, ideally, combining it with aerobic exercise could help older adults lessen abdominal fat while increasing or preserving muscle mass. The notches on your belt tell the tale: If your waistline has gained girth, you’ve got too much belly fat, and that’s a serious health issue.

The reason for health risks associated with excess abdominal fat is that abdominal fat is thought to break down easily into fatty acids, which flow directly into the liver and into muscle. When these excess fatty acids drain into the liver, they trigger a chain reaction of changes — increasing the production of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides. During this time insulin can also become less effective in controlling blood sugar, so insulin resistance sets in. Blood sugars start to get out of balance. Fats and clots get into the bloodstream, and that sets the stage for diabetes, heart disease, and more. And research shows that abdominal fat triggers a change in angiotensin, a hormone that controls blood vessel constriction — increasing the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack. One way to get the belly fat off is to incorporate more resistance exercise according to new research.


Researchers studied the physical activity, waist circumference (in centimeters (cm), and body weight of 10,500 healthy U.S. men aged 40 and over participating in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study between 1996 and 2008. Their analysis included a comparison of changes in participants’ activity levels over the 12-year period to see which activities had the most effect on the men’s waistlines.

Those who increased the amount of time spent in weight training by 20 minutes a day had less gain in their waistline (-0.67 cm) compared with men who similarly increased the amount of time they spent on moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise (-0.33 cm), and yard work or stair climbing (-0.16 cm). They also found that those who performed resistance exercise, consumed less trans-fat and more fiber, had a higher glycemic load diet and a better diet quality as measured by the higher alternative healthy eating index.

The researchers found that resistance training is associated with a lower waist circumference in a cohort of male health professionals with a mean age of 55 years.  So if you are looking to reduce belly fat, incorporating high intensity resistance exercise is better than doing aerobics.


Mekary RA, Grøntved A, Despres JP, De Moura LP, Asgarzadeh M, Willett WC, Rimm EB, Giovannucci E, Hu FB. Weight training, aerobic physical activities, and long-term waist circumference change in men. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2015 Feb;23(2):461-7.

Robbie Durand has been in the sports supplement and  bodybuilding industry for 15 years. He has contributed to many national magazines and web sites. He has an M.A. in exercise physiology from Southeastern University and a B.A. in Dietetics from Louisiana State University.