Body fat is nobody’s best friend. Body fat is the friend at the party you wish hadn’t come to hang out. Body fat is the annoying cousin who won’t go away.
Body fat is distributed differently in each person. Categorically, you fit into 1 of 3 main body types: ectomorph, endomorph, or mesomorph. You can be a combination of any of these, but most people fit into one category more than the other. Your body type will determine how well you build muscle or burn fat and retain muscle or retain fat.
This isn’t to say that if you fall into a category which makes you more pear-shaped and carry weight more around your hips and thighs than an apple-shaped individual who carries weight around their stomach, you have any less risk of cardiovascular disease.
Or does it? According to Miami cardiologist Arthur Agatston, M.D., author of The South Beach Diet, “Abdominal fat is different and more dangerous than fat elsewhere. Unlike fat directly under the skin, belly fat, which adheres to organs, is associated with increases in C-reactive protein (CRP) and other markers of inflammation that can lead to heart disease.” The fact that belly fat is the most dangerous body fat distribution also doesn’t mean that a skinny individual can’t suffer from heart disease.
But we’re focusing on body fat distribution, and more importantly body fat distribution and exercise and how they are related. Because regardless of where you are carrying your fat, exercise combined with a proper diet is the only way to prevent or lower your chance of disease. Smoking aside, hypertension, obesity, and high cholesterol levels all account for almost all heart disease. Exercise keeps these problems at bay.
You can make your annoying cousin go away with a little exercise! It’s important to pay close attention to where you are retaining your body fat. Obviously the belly fat is the most dangerous, and many studies have been conducted about the topic. You could read for days about the metabolic implications of body fat distribution or the difference between visceral fat storage and adipose fat storage, or you could go to the gym and burn all the fat away!
Focus on getting your heart rate up to a safe zone that allows you to feel a strong exertion level. High intensity interval training (HIIT) has burst onto the scene and offers great results for the elimination of body fat, especially in trouble areas. HIIT is often a total-body, balls-to-the-wall approach to exercise. HIIT isn’t for everyone, especially for those with past injuries that still bother the exercise or those with little exercise experience.
Steady-state exercise can also be effective for losing weight and building endurance. The point is: whatever you do, work out! Get moving and exercise.