Tuesday, February 29

Is spot reduction possible?
by Armand Tecco, M.Ed.

How many of us wish we could lose some weight in one particular part of our bodies? Women typically want slimmer thighs or smaller buttocks. Men often want a flatter stomach or smaller waist.

It's common knowledge that regular exercise is integral to weight loss. But a popular concern is how to specifically get rid of saddlebags, love handles and the like. People want to know if it's possible to "spot reduce."

The answer is no. Exercising a specific place on the body where fat is deposited will not reduce fat in that area. For example, if you do 75 abdominal curls every day, you will not transform a fat stomach into a flat one.

Exercises such as tummy crunches, leg lifts and torso twists will not reduce the fat in a particular area of your body. Weight-training exercises will not spot reduce either. But these forms of exercise do have value: They increase muscular strength and endurance, and provide the cosmetic advantage of improved muscle tone, which has a slimming effect.

The role of genes and hormones
To a large extent, genetic and hormonal factors control where fat is deposited in our bodies. If you are female, you are likely to store fat in your legs and buttocks. Women blessed with slim thighs, however, may have a family history of carrying excess weight around the stomach. Males often inherit the spare tire around the middle.

What you can do
The good news, however, is that you do have a certain amount of control over your body's appearance. To remove body fat from anywhere on your body you need to use the fat for energy. You do that by consuming less energy, or food; by expending more energy, or exercising; or by doing a combination of the two. Although you will lose weight all over, fat will generally be lost first from the area of the body where it was last deposited.

The best exercise to achieve the fat loss is aerobic activity such as walking, jogging, cycling, stair stepping and swimming. It should be done at least three times per week for 30 to 45 minutes per session. In between, you should be moving your body as much as possible through housework, gardening, and other activities, and minimizing the amount of time you are sedentary. Also, you should perform resistance exercises three times per week to enhance your muscular fitness.

In summary, it is possible to "spot tone" through a variety of resistance type exercises, but it is not possible to "spot reduce." In order to achieve the firm, slender body you desire, you need to chisel off excess fat through aerobic exercise and healthy eating while doing strengthening and toning exercises to define the muscles that lie underneath.

The information, including opinions and recommendations, contained in this website is for educational purposes only. Such information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. No one should act upon any information provided in this website without first seeking medical advice from a qualified medical physician.

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