Try these ways to burn belly fat

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 59% of U.S. adults carry around "abdominal obesity." In other words, belly fat -- the kind that's found in the spaces between your organs, such as the stomach, liver and kidneys. Excess belly fat is particularly bad for your health because it is biologically active and secretes hormones and other molecules that impact many organ systems. Studies show that in women, those with the biggest waists have more than double the risk of heart disease compared to women with healthy waist circumferences (less than half your height at the belly button, as you suck in). Belly fat is associated with higher blood pressure, blood sugar levels and triglyceride levels, and lower levels of good HDL cholesterol.

If you're working to regain a healthy weight -- and waist circumference -- you know that a plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet, intermittent fasting and at least 300 minutes of exercise weekly are essential. But did you know that these four steps can help banish the bulge, too?

-- Aim for six to eight hours of restful sleep. More -- or less -- than that promotes weight gain.

-- Actively manage your stress response. Stress hormones promote weight gain and self-soothing with unhealthy food is common. Meditation, exercise, yoga and talk therapy are stress-relief techniques that help.

-- Enjoy strength-training exercise. One study showed that 20 minutes a day reduced the additional belly fat in guys -- and women benefit, too. Using your own body weight and stretchy bands are effective.

-- Add high-intensity interval training to your aerobics -- multiple 30-second bursts of intense activity burn belly fat effectively.

Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email [email protected].

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