The most commonly cursed fat on the human body is belly fat. No one wants it and everyone is always trying to find the best way to get rid of it. What most people don’t like about it is how it looks but there is more to it than that.

What some people don’t know is that belly fat can be more of a health risk than fat elsewhere on your body. Excessive belly fat is also known as central obesity and because the fat is collecting around your organs, it provides more risk. The fat inside your belly is called visceral fat and it builds up in the spaces between your internal organs. This fat makes chemicals that can boost your chances for heart disease and make your body less sensitive to insulin which can lead to diabetes. The fat that you can grab is called subcutaneous fat and isn’t as dangerous, however, having extra subcutaneous belly fat is commonly an indicator that you have extra visceral fat. This type of fat is sneaky because one can have a lot of belly fat and not be overweight because they are thin in other parts of their body. The best way to tell is to take a waist measurement. To take this measurement simply wrap a measuring tape around your waist at the belly button. The standard for waist size as far as health goes is that men should be under 40 inches and women should be under 35 inches.

The best way to get rid of all fat including visceral fat is through vigorous exercise and a balanced, healthy diet low in fat. Getting the proper amount of sleep and managing your stress can also help. It is not possible to spot reduce fat or pick and choose where you lose fat from. Doing a whole bunch of core work WILL NOT target the fat in your belly. It will however make your abdominal muscles bigger and more visible which makes them look more toned. All exercise, including core exercises, will reduce the amount of fat on your body as a whole, but you can’t decide where the fat comes from. You are best suited to engage in vigorous cardiovascular exercise like running, biking, or swimming and to eat a healthy diet for fat loss. Before starting an exercise program consult your healthcare provider to be sure exercise is safe for you.

Tyler Glidden is the wellness director for the McPherson Family YMCA.