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Got a beer belly? You’re definitely not alone, but you may be dealing with some health risks you don’t even know about. MayoClinic.com physician Michael D. Jensen writes that men who have bigger waist measurements also have a higher likelihood of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, sleep disorders and even cancer. To slim down, focus on aerobic exercises that are high calorie burners, and supplement with strength training and healthy eating.

Cardio and Abs

According to the American Council on Exercise, spot reduction for the stomach just isn’t possible, especially with moves like crunches. To get a tighter midsection, choose aerobic activities that will burn fat throughout the body and eventually slim down your belly. In many cases, you can combine ab-strengthening and cardio exercises. Try mountain climbers or plank jumping jacks, which raise your heart rate but force your core to stabilize as well.

Run It Out

The faster you run, the more calories you’ll burn, and the quicker you’ll lose fat if you keep your diet in check. But you don’t have to be a sprinter to get benefits. Hop on a treadmill and try interval training, where you run at your peak pace for 30 to 60 seconds at a time and then switch to a comfortable jog for a full minute or two. Crank up the intensity again and alternate intervals for your entire workout. The times you push yourself can really add up. According to MayoClinic.com, a 160-pound person burns about 600 calories when jogging at 5 miles per hour for 60 minutes, but the total jumps to more than 860 calories at a pace of 8 miles per hour.

Pump Some Iron

Lifting weights won’t burn as many calories as pure cardio exercises, but it’s still beneficial for tightening your tummy. CNN.com chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta writes that regular strength training is effective at trimming belly fat, especially if you’re not obese and simply carry a few extra pounds around your midsection. Try combination moves that will raise your heart rate and challenge your muscles at the same time, such as wood chops, weighted lunges and squat jumps.

Exercising Patience

Belly fat won’t disappear overnight, so it’s important to develop a fitness plan that you can maintain for the long haul. Even if you work out a lot, don’t underestimate the importance of eating healthfully. According to Dr. Donald Hensrud, preventive medicine specialist for MayoClinic.com, dietary changes may go even further toward reducing belly fat than exercise. Consult your doctor before making any big changes in your diet or exercise routine, especially if you have a medical condition.

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