A new study shows that picking up free weights may be the true trick to trimming belly pooch. Researchers found that 25- to 44-year-old women who started strength training twice a week lost nearly four percent of their body fat over two years and gained less weight in their tummy areas (which usually happens as you get older) compared to another group that did not take these fitness classes.
"Muscle requires energy to exist, whereas fat just sits there," says study coauthor Peter J. Hannan, a senior research fellow in the division of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota.
"So when you build new muscles, you increase your overall metabolism and burn more calories all day long -- not just while exercising."
But you don't need to be a total gym rat to see results. Pick up a set of free weights and lift for 10 or 15 minutes while the baby's napping, or add muscle-boosting lunges to your basic stroller outing (see below). Some studies suggest that short bursts of activity throughout the day are actually better fat burners than hourlong sweat sessions.