What can I do to lose this (as the person points to their stomach)? That is a question that makes most fitness professionals cringe when they hear it.
Generally, the honest response is not well-received -- dietary changes are the number one way to lose belly fat.
Below are the number of calories in common foods and what it would take for them to be burned off in the gym.
(These refer to a 150-pound person when considering the exercise portion. A larger person would have a slightly higher calorie burn and a smaller person would have less.)
• 1 M&M is approximately three calories. To burn that off, you would have to walk approximately 100 yards, the length of a football field.
• A McDonald's cheeseburger happy meal is approximately 660 calories. That could be burnt off by shoveling snow for 1½ hours.
• A Sonic Route 44 Coke is around 360 calories, so be prepared to run for 30 minutes at 6.7 mph. (The average person walks at a pace of around 3.5 mph.)
• One glass of wine or a White Claw seltzer is approximately 100 calories. To burn that off, you could hop on your stationary bike for a half hour or take a one mile walk.
• Do you like your cinnamon crunch bagels? To burn off the 430 calories in one bagel, be prepared to spend two hours hitting golf balls on the driving range.
As you can see, calories add up. It is easy to finish your child's meal, supersize your own or just grab a few pieces of candy from your workmate's candy dish. However, doing this when living a sedentary lifestyle sets you up for an ever-expanding waistline. Exercise does help burn calories, but if you can avoid ingesting those unnecessary calories in the first place, you will be better off.
If you're looking for a specific exercise that will help you lose weight, it is all of them. Often the exercises that you like the least benefit you the most. Exercises that have you breathing hard and raise your heart rate burn the most calories. For example, taking a walk through the neighborhood while talking with your neighbor is great, but taking that walk where you can only get out a few words before having to take a breath is better. When you're at the gym, whole body exercises that build muscle help you fight the battle of the bulge. Try squats, leg press, chest press, pull ups or pull downs. Again, the harder the workout, the better the benefits.
The bottom line is there is no one magic exercise to lose weight around the belly. It takes living a lifestyle that consists of proper eating and exercise.
Larsen Daehnick is an exercise specialist at the Sam B. Cook Healthplex. He has a master's degree in exercise physiology from the University of Missouri. He likes the wide range of people he works with and the freedom to challenge himself to learn and grow while he helps others improve themselves.