Running: The Life Saving Workout

Blitz the dangerous body fat stores that you can't see - and attack proof your heart

by Ian Taylor

The good news is there are other ways to reduce visceral fat. Resistance training, for example, has been linked with reduced visceral fat and increased endurance in runners.

And even if you just get out there a few times a week, there is solid evidence that you are vanquishing the visceral fat and improving your health.

“We did a study on women who exercised three times a week for one hour,” says Jimmy Bell. “There was no change to their weight but did reduce their internal visceral fat and liver fat by up to 60 per cent. Personally, I don’t think it makes too much difference. Everything we do to increase physical activity will reduce visceral fat.”

The point is that no matter how far or how fast you can run, as long as you can maintain it, you will keep the hidden hazard at bay. In other words, if you move it, you lose it.

Do you have an excess of visceral fat?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you probably do:

  • Are you inactive?
  • Do you have a waistline bigger than 35in (women) or 40in (men)?
  • Divide your waist by your hip measurement. Is it more than 0.9?
  • Is the distance between your navel and lower back over 25cm?

Weapons of Choice

Choose the best kind of training for your fitness levels, then strike against visceral fat.

High-Intensity Intervals
Best for: People with good baseline fitness levels.

Why: Research from the University of Virginia found it is the most effective exercise intensity for reducing visceral fat.

How: 400m @ 8-10 RPE*, then rest for 2 mins; repeat x 8, 3-5 times a week

Tempo Intervals
Best for: People returning from injury or looking to start a maintainable fitness regime.

Why: Research from University College London found that exercising for 60 mins three times a week reduces visceral fat by 60 per cent.

How: Run 1 mile @ 4/10 RPE; run 2 miles @ 6-7/10; run 1 mile @ 4/10; run 2 miles @ 6-7/10; run 1 mile @ 4/10   

*RPE = rate of perceived exertion: 8-10 represents almost maximal effort; 4 represents easy; 6-7 ‘comfortably hard’ that you could maintain for 20 minutes.

Visceral Fat Facts

5-10% Lose this much of your total body weight and you’ll have made a real dent in your visceral fat.

33% How much visceral fat you regain if you stop exercising one year after you first lose weight.

1 cup How much green tea you should drink daily in order to boost the effect of exercise against visceral fat.

2.3 times How much more likely it is that people who carry excess abdominal fat in their 40s will go on to have a form of dementia in their 70s.

30 mins If you’re already not carrying much visceral fat, this is how long you should walk for, six days a week, to keep visceral fat at bay.

80 mins This much aerobic or resistance training per week inhibits the regain of visceral fat for up to a year after a person first loses weight.

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