Working from home changes many behaviors. For one, we move about less, so our metabolism of energy is reduced. Nutrients we eat are stored in different parts of the body as energy in the form of fat. The fat we don’t burn becomes excess. This is not only an issue for your figure but, in the long run, also your health. The most dangerous fat is that which accumulates in the abdominal area, also known as “visceral fat”. Obese and skinny people can all get it. But beware because it can correspond with such diseases as fatty liver, atheroma, high blood pressure, and others.
Causes of Visceral Fat
Consuming large amounts of carbohydrates, fats and sugars is an important factor contributing to the accumulation of visceral fat. When the body gets too much of these nutrients, they turn into fat. If the body doesn’t burn that fat for energy, what’s left over sticks to different organs, especially those in the abdominal area. If the fat accumulates over a long time, it will harden and push the belly to clearly protrude. Besides eating habits, lack of regular exercise is another major cause of visceral fat.
"Excess fat" can be checked by:
• Analyzing the fat mass – The fat under the skin can be measured in terms of total body fat and regional fat mass.
• Analyzing the amount of visceral fat – Visceral fat accumulates beneath the skin around internal organs, especially in the abdominal area where fat is a causal factor in chronic inflammatory processes leading to several serious diseases
• Analyzing the pattern of fat distribution – The tendency for different areas to accumulate fat vary between men and women. Men tend to get more fat on their torso, chest, shoulders, and neck (Android type / Apple type), while women tend to develop more fat on their hips and thighs (Gynoid type / Pear-shaped type).
If you can’t check these ways, you can easily calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). Body Mass Index is a simple calculation using a person's height and weight. The formula is BMI = kg/m2, where kg is a person's weight in kilograms and m2 is their height in meters squared. A BMI of 25.0 or more is overweight while the healthy range is 18.5 to 24.9.
Five exercises are recommended for those who exceed those figures to help them lose belly fat and reduce visceral fat. Here they are:
Five exercises to reduce belly fat
- Crunches: Lie flat on the floor. Set your knees up or raise your calves and legs parallel to the floor. Interlock your hands at the nape of your neck. Inhale and exhale before lifting your shoulders off the floor while contracting the muscles in your abdomen. Inhale and resume the starting position. Repeat 10 to 15 times for 1 set and do 2-3 sets.
- Planks: Lie on your stomach with your body stretched flat on the floor. Start the plank by keeping your elbows perpendicular to the floor. Balance your elbows and toes with your spine and neck in the same plane. Hold the position for 30 seconds. Breathe in and out normally. Repeat 3 times.
- Low Belly Leg Reach: Lie flat on the floor. Bend your knees over your hips at a 90-degree angle with the floor and keep your calves at a 90-degree angle with your thighs. Keep your buttocks on the floor and your hands clasped at the nape of your neck. Begin by inhaling with your shoulders raised for 5 seconds. Exhale while extending your legs to a 45-degree angle to the floor. Hold for 5 seconds and contract your lower abs. Contract your legs to the perpendicular point. Repeat 10-15 times.
- Russian Twist: Sit with both knees bent, feet together, and lift your feet so that they don't touch the ground. Keep your thighs at a 45-degree angle to the floor and extend both arms straight forward. Put your hands together slightly above your knees. Twist your body at the waist to the right with both hands so that both hands are still connected and both legs are still the same way. Then twist your body back to the left as far as it will go. Do it alternately 10 times for 2-3 sets (If you want to increase the difficulty, you can hold dumbbells to add weight).
- Flutter Kicks: Lie with legs extended flat on the floor. Place both hands on the floor beside you. Then lift your legs and tense your abdomen. Perform alternating up and down kicks. Repeat 10-15 times for 1 set and do 2-3 sets.
These five exercises can help your body burn that excess belly fat. If you’re new to exercise, start small, say with one set for each exercise, then increase gradually. Alternatively, break your exercise into two sessions – one in the morning and another in the evening. Krungthai-AXA life insurance customers can find more information about health services at https://www.krungthai-axa.co.th/th/HealthServices
• Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University
• Phyathai Hospital
• Pobpad website
• APEX Medical Center