Exercise is a key component of your weight-loss plan. The right moves will burn calories, strengthen muscles and fight stress that can lead to overeating. However, there are some things that exercise simply cannot do, such as spot reduce your problem areas. Working out simply won't trim fat from your legs or stomach. However, losing weight all over your body will make these areas smaller. Because a large belly often indicates dangerous visceral fat accumulation, shedding pounds with diet and exercise may also lower your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, dementia and breast cancer.
Cardio is king when it comes to burning calories, which is crucial for weight loss. Cardio, also called aerobic exercise, is any activity that elevates your heart and breathing rates for at least 10 minutes at a time. For optimal fat loss, perform moderate cardio activities such as brisk walking and water aerobics an hour a day, five days a week. Alternatively, perform intense cardio such as running or cycling uphill for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Choose exercises that engage your leg and stomach muscles for an added toning benefit.
Resistance training, such as weightlifting and body-weight exercises, builds lean muscle tissue and can add definition to your legs and stomach. Do these at least two days per week, and be sure to work out the rest of your muscle groups as well to avoid imbalance and poor posture. These include hips, back, chest, arms and shoulders. Do crunches and V-ups to tone your stomach, as well as lunges, calf raises and squats to work your legs.
Visceral fat, which pads the organs in your abdominal region, tends to be more prevalent in people with high stress levels. Therefore, some of the most effective stomach exercises may be yoga poses, deep breathing routines and other activities that alleviate anxiety. Sleep also matters. According to Harvard Medical School, adults under age 40 who slept five hours or less per night had higher visceral fat levels than those who got adequate rest.
You can't trim your legs or stomach without a proper diet. Ultimately, calories carry more power than any exercise when it comes to weight loss. By eating 1,000 fewer calories than you use each day, you will lose 2 pounds a week. This is the maximum safe rate of weight loss; don't dip below 1,200 calories per day or else you risk malnutrition. Choose foods high in nutrients and low in energy, such as spinach, kale, berries, oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta, egg whites and fish.