Healthy Heart Challenge: Blast Belly Fat 

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

You can whittle your middle without doing sit-ups. These low-impact burpee variations help reduce body fat and build head-to-toe strength.  

Keep up with the 7-Day Healthy Heart Challenge here. 

There’s never a fun time to talk about excess belly fat. But it is an important topic to know more about. Excess weight around your waist increases your risk for a host of health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, decreased lung function, and premature death. And as we grow older, weight is more likely to stay put there.   

Another major health risk caused by belly fat is heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, too much weight in the midsection, even for people who are not considered overweight, raises the risk for heart problems. Heart disease is the leading killer of American women, so any activity you can do to improve cardiovascular function can help you live healthier for longer.  

Knowing all of that, it would be wonderful to be able to spot-reduce the fat in your belly. But weight loss doesn’t work that way.   

“You can’t whittle only one part of your body at a time. But you can bring your body fat levels down overall,” says Shannon Thigpen, a SilverSneakers LIVE trainer. “One effective way to do that is with burpees.  

“A burpee is a total-body exercise that tones your core, arms, shoulders, and chest. It’s a great calorie-burner too,” she adds. 

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How to Use the Low-Impact Burpee Variations to Blast Belly Fat

A traditional burpee is a high-impact, high-intensity exercise staple that has a reputation (well-deserved!) for being a challenge.  

For today’s activity, Thigpen guides you through low-impact variations that are easier on your joints.  

You’ll need comfortable, supportive shoes and a sturdy chair or weight bench. If you have tubing or a resistance band at home, you can also use that for one of the variations. Even though you won’t be jumping, you may want to position your chair against a wall to help keep it from moving.  

As always, safety is key. Get your doctor’s OK before beginning a new exercise program. If you have a chronic condition (including osteoporosis), balance issues, or injuries, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely. 

Press play on the video above to follow along with Thigpen. She suggests starting with 4 to 5 reps. Concentrate on nailing down your form, which is crucial both to get the full benefit of the exercise and to protect yourself from injury. When you have good form, you can begin to gradually work your way up to two to three sets of 5 to 10. 

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For your reference, here are the basic steps of a Modified Burpee: 

  1. Stand in front of a weight bench or sturdy chair with your feet about hip-width apart. Bring your hands down to the bench. 
  2. With control, step one foot back then the other until you are in high plank with your body in a straight line from head to ankles. 
  3. Still with control, step one foot in then the other, and stand up to return to the starting position. 

For the standing variation, you may want to practice doing a Hip Hinge a few times. Here’s how: 

Hip Hinge Exercise

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and hands on hips.  
  2. Brace your core — imagine you’re about to get punched in the stomach. 
  3. Without changing the position of your knees, bend at your hips and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor (or as far as you can comfortably go without rounding your back).  
  4. Pause, then lift your torso back to the starting position.  
  5. Be sure to squeeze your glutes and push your hips forward to lift your torso back to the starting position. This ensures you’re engaging your hip muscles instead of relying on your lower back. 

Love this and want more? Try a SilverSneakers LIVE Core Conditioning Basics Express Class! 

This 15-minute class includes seated and standing exercise options to help you walk taller and feel stronger. A chair, soft play ball, tubing, and handheld weights are optional. View the schedule and RSVP here. 

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