Wouldn't it be great if fat only went the places we wanted it to go? But in reality, as we well know, squishy fat usually ends up settling in our bellies and thighs.
Not only are these two areas some of the toughest spots to lose weight, but as a recent study published in the 'Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism,' found, belly and thigh fat actually differ genetically.
“Even though many women hate having large hips and thighs, that pear shape actually reduces their risk of heart disease and diabetes. In fact, women who have heart attacks tend to have more belly fat than thigh fat," said Dr. Steven Smith, director of the Florida Hospital — Sanford-Burnham Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes.
So jiggly thighs may be a good thing after all — as long as we're aware of our abdominal fat. Besides increasing the risk of heart disease and diabetes, researchers added that belly fat in particular was linked to an increased risk of obesity.
To test their theory, Smith and his team took fat samples from both men and women, and compared active genes (genes that program fat cells to react with hormones) in both types of fat. Turns out for both sexes, genes in their bellies were more "active."
A 2012 study from the Mayo Clinic found central abdominal fat, and love handles in particular, were two of the most dangerous hot spots for fat, according to Shape Magazine. Being a normal weight but having excessive belly fat was worse health-wise than just being qualified as obese.
But belly fat is also complex in itself. That squishy type you can hold in your hand is not as dangerous as visceral fat, for example, a type of fat that grows around your organs, which can put you at a higher risk of health-related illnesses.
Cutting down on these bad types of fat starts with your plate. Eat fresh fruits, vegetables and lean clean proteins, and avoid eating excessive sugars, salts and unhealthy fats.
ALSO: Here are 10 exercises to lose belly fat:
Laying flat on your back with your hands by your ears, elevate your legs to a 90-degree angle, says <a href="http://victoriapersonaltrainer.com/">personal fitness trainer Kyla Gagnon based in Victoria, B.C.</a> Next, bring your left knee towards your chest and twist your right elbow to meet it. Repeat this on the other side. Also, as you bring one leg in, stretch the other one straight out.
Begin in a seated position with bended knees and flat feet. Lean back slightly with a strong straight back and get into a comfortable position, contracting your ab muscles. Stretch your arms out in front of you and twist the torso from side to side. For more intensity, tap the floor to the right of your hip and then the left side. To further increase difficulty, lift your feet off the floor or use a weighted medicine ball in your hands.
Plank Knee Drive
In either the low (elbows touching the ground) or high plank, bring your right knee out and try to touch your right elbow. Gagnon suggests doing 10 to 15 reps per leg to start and always remember to bring your body back into the original plank position before the "drive."
Side Plank Hip Dips
Another variation of the plank exercise, start in a side plank position with your elbows touching the ground. Drop your hips to touch the floor as you inhale and exhale while bringing them back up. Gagnon suggest 10 to 15 times per side.
Using one arm, either your forearm or your hand, line it up beneath your armpit and stack your feet on top of one another. Ideally, you want to create a “T” shape with your body.
Stability Ball Plank
Using a stability ball, place your elbows and forearms on the ball. After you regain your balance, try to hold a plank position for two to five minutes.
Again, in a low or high plank, use an elevated surface like a bench, step or ball, and continue holding your plank for two to five minutes.
High Plank From The Hands
Get your body into a push-up position but hold it up. Place your hands directly beneath your armpits and keep your legs straight. Gagnon adds that your belly button should be sucked up into your spine, creating a strong flat back.
Low Plank From Elbows
Place your elbows and forearms on the floor beneath your armpits and lift your body off the floor with your legs straight. Hold this position for one to three minutes.
Stay with your legs shoulder-width apart and slightly bend your knees into a squat position. Using a kettleball or weights, bring your weights in front of you with your arms forward and bring them back slowly.
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