How Long Should Someone Exercise to Lose a Belly?

How Long Should Someone Exercise to Lose a Belly?

The short answer to the question of how long you need to exercise to lose your belly is "as long as it takes." Different bodies will take different lengths of training to remove a belly because metabolism, body shape and fat burn vary from person to person. However, understanding how losing belly fat works will help you develop a training regimen to lose belly fat, and set realistic goals for that regimen.

Belly Fat Loss Basics
The bad news is you can't target your belly specifically for fat loss. When you burn the excess calories that cause your body to eliminate fat, that fat comes off from your body as a whole. The good news is that "your body as a whole" includes your belly. Sticking with the right exercise program will unavoidably reduce body fat over time.

Type of Exercise
In general, cardiovascular exercises are more effective for reducing body fat because cardio sessions tend to burn more calories than resistance exercise. Some examples of good cardio workouts include jogging, cycling, swimming and active group fitness classes.

Duration of Workout
The longer you work out, the more calories you burn. However, you'll eventually reach a point of diminishing returns where your fatigue makes it hard to move fast enough to burn a significant number of calories. Fitness expert Bill Phillips and celebrity personal trainer Jillian Michaels recommend sessions of 20 to 30 minutes at a moderate pace for best results. It's long enough to burn calories while short enough that it neither fatigues you nor creates scheduling issues that might come from longer workouts. Some exercises that burn enough calories to keep you on target for weight loss include high-impact aerobics, backpacking, running, cross-country skiing and swimming.

Duration of Program
If you want to lose your belly, you have to continue your training regimen until your belly is gone. Since you can't control how much fat comes directly off your belly, it's better to focus on rate of weight loss than losing your belly by a set date. Health organization Kaiser Permanente recommends aiming to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.

Diet and Nutrition Support
Exercise is only one half of the weight-loss equation. If you exercise regularly without changing your diet, you can expect to lose your belly about half as quickly as you would by exercising and observing a weight-loss diet. You have to establish a calorie deficit of 3,500 to lose 1 pound of fat. To lose that pound a week, you'd have to burn 500 extra calories a day in your workout. If you shifted half that load by reducing your calorie intake, you could accomplish the same results by burning only 250 extra calories a day and eating 250 fewer calories.