By Krisann Valdez
Photo by Alyssa Adams
Cardio. Cardio. Cardio. I cannot emphasize it enough.
Doing a 100 crunches a day may seem like a great path towards a flat stomach (or a six-pack) but did you know that cardio is actually a much more successful route to burning belly fat?
Georgia State University nutrition professor Christine Rosenbloom says that 60 minutes of activity a day (from brisk walking to kickboxing) coupled with a healthy diet, is the best way to burn excess belly fat.
Most people avoid cardio because it can be painful and it takes dedication. I encourage you not to give in to this mentality. The heart is a muscle like any other in our body; if you exercise it properly it will benefit.
So put cardio first, and don’t forget to include the strength-training and healthy diet too.
I follow this order of priorities:
- Cardio and Diet – You cannot have one without the other. Cardio will reduce stress levels, increase self-esteem, promote discipline, and help create a healthier you. Shoot for 15-30 minutes of cardio per day and at least five days a week of healthy eating (we all have bad days). If you run a mile, come home and eat a Twinkie you have defeated the purpose of your run. A Twinkie has 150 calories while the average mile burns about 100 calories.
- Strength training – Strength training has endless benefits, including: toned/ stronger muscles, agility, better self-esteem and metabolic spikes.
- Stretching – Always stretch. Dedicate at least a few minutes before and after every workout. The more you work on your agility the less chance of injury. Studies show those with flexibility tend to look younger longer, and have better balance and posture.
- Crunches – Yes, they finish last. I put the least amount of emphasis on these for a reason. When I focus on cardio, diet, strength training and stretching my abs are still getting a good workout. Certain cardio workouts, like boxing or dancing or running, will naturally put emphasis on my abs so I don’t have to worry as much about them.
Krisann Valdez is a senior at GCU and enjoys dancing on the dance team, writing and hanging out with her husband (she’s a newlywed). After graduation, she will pursue a career in writing and traveling with a nonprofit organization such as Food for the Hungry. Contact her at [email protected].