When it comes to shedding stubborn belly fat after 40, there’s some bad news and some good news.
Let’s start by getting the bad news out of the way: To achieve a slimmer stomach, you have to be active. There’s no way around it, folks.
The good news is that there are lots of ways to add more fitness into your life. When we asked six different women to share the workouts that helped them lose (or stave off) a midlife pooch, we got six different answers—from strength training and high-intensity intervals to walking and water aerobics.
Here’s a look at what worked for them, plus, how you can follow their lead and get a slimmer stomach:
Photograph by JGI/Tom Grill/Getty Images
“After having an emergency hysterectomy, I spent six weeks in recovery lying on the couch watching reruns of ‘Entourage’ and eating microwaved lasagnas. No surprise, I developed belly fat. I got rid of it by walking briskly for 45 minutes in the morning, five days a week. I tried to link walking with something or someone I enjoyed. For example, I tried to walk with friends around the park or treat myself to a smoothie afterward. Six months later, my belly was back in shape.” —Kaye Newton, 47
Photograph by Kevin Kozicki/Getty Images
Core exercises and cardio
“I’ve found that doing crunches on a stability ball three to four times per week has not only helped to reduce my belly fat—it’s started the beginnings of a six-pack! Sit-ups, planks, yoga and Pilates have also helped to strengthen my core and flatten my tummy. But the focus isn’t just on abs: I squeeze in a full workout three to five times a week, and I try to keep it diverse. I’ll do anything from Zumba to cycling, to speed-walking, to boot camp classes." —Debra Dixon-Anderson, 54
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Sprints and jogs
"The thing that helped me lose belly fat and keep it off is mixing up my workouts. Sometimes, I’ll alternate sprints and recovery jogs on the treadmill. But my favourite workout consists of doing two exercises for the same body part, with a cardio drill in between. For instance, I might do 10-12 chest presses, followed by 25-30 plank jacks, followed by 10-12 chest flys. I’ll repeat that three times, resting in between each round." —Heather Holtschlag, 45
Low-impact, low-stress activities
“I used to run, do step aerobics and kickboxing, use the Stairmaster or elliptical machines, bike, row, ski, you name it. But low-impact exercises make the most sense for me now. As a hardworking entrepreneur, water aerobics and Tai Chi keep my life low-stress, which helps ward off weight gain. Taking a daily walk is good, too. It doesn’t need to be long or fast—every little bit helps. And you really do feel great afterward.” —Paige Arnoff-Fenn, 51
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Spinning and free weights
"I work out for at least an hour every day, starting with a SoulCycle session. After that, I’ll mix it up. I’ll play tennis with friends, stretch and keep my muscles strong and toned with free weights and sit-ups. With this combination, I’ve never looked—or felt—better than I do now.” —Donna Mills, 76
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High-intensity interval training
“Doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) helped me get lean for the first time in my life and blew away my belly fat over the course of five months. My workouts focus on standard strength work; then I add in compound movements for 30 seconds to a minute to elevate my heart rate—like squats, box jumps, cable rows, or cable skaters. I try to get my heart rate to 80% to 90% of my max to get into the HIIT zone. Depending on the workout, it’ll take 20 minutes to an hour total. I try to train four to five times a week." —Sarah Foster, 49
First published: 9 Aug 2017