When it comes to the best exercises for belly fat over 60, there’s quite a selection. These are exercises that will help to shed unwanted weight whilst also helping to tone the stomach muscles that lie underneath.
As we get older, our bodies change and so can our workout routines. A combination of taking care of our nutrition with things such as the best supplements for joints, and staying active can make a real difference to how we feel.
You may want to lose belly fat for aesthetic reasons, however, targeting stomach fat can also help improve health as research (opens in new tab) has consistently shown how excess fat around the middle can increase the risk of problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure, to name just a few.
Below, we’ve rounded up six of the best exercises for belly fat over 60 that don’t involve machines. Instead, they work with dumbbells, other weighted items, or simply just using your own bodyweight.
What causes weight gain as you age?
Unfortunately, it may be inevitable that weight gain and aging go hand in hand. Research (opens in new tab) has found that generally, muscle mass declines with age, and muscle is replaced by fat over time.
“With getting older we have various unwanted things that happen to our bodies, one of those is the decrease of muscle mass; from the age of 30 the lean muscle we have, naturally decreases between 3-8% every 10 years. This is a process called Sarcopenia. To add to this, as we get older most people become less active which speeds up this process,” says MyProtein (opens in new tab) personal trainer, Sean Butt.
Plus, fat distribution can often change with age, as fat often tends to accumulate around the waist and stomach area as we get older.
Hormonal changes are one of the big triggers behind weight gain as you age.
For women, weight gain around the belly can be caused by decreasing levels of estrogen which occurs post-menopause. This can influence where fat is stored according to Mayo Clinic (opens in new tab) plus, Butt explains that men experience a drop in testosterone.
“From the age of 40, men’s testosterone levels drop between 1 to 2% per year. Testosterone is hugely responsible for fat distribution and muscle strength and mass. With the drop in testosterone alongside the drop in the production of growth hormone, the body becomes less effective at burning calories and less effective at gaining lean muscle mass.”
Butt adds that alongside this we have the potential old age-related health conditions such as arthritis, which again will stop us from becoming as active as we once were.
You can’t actually spot reduce fat and choose to burn it specifically from the stomach area; instead, a calorie deficit is needed to help burn weight across the whole body.
Butt explains that a great way to adjust as you get older is by looking at your diet; this is because muscle uses more calories than fat in the body, unless you regularly train in a way that will help build and maintain muscle, which is mainly strength and resistance training.
“If you are not doing this style of training you will need to consume fewer calories per day. However, most people as they age unfortunately will not take this into account and continue to eat the same way they have over the years. This leads to quicker weight gain because they have less muscle mass to burn those additional calories.”
Best exercises for belly fat over 60
“As we have learned from above, we are fighting a bit of an uphill battle but not all hope is lost,” says Butt.
“We need to remember that things begin to slow as we age including our metabolism, how much we move and how explosive those movements can be. By looking at what we are eating, portion control, and continuing to exercise then we can drop fat if that’s your goal.”
Before we go into the best exercises for belly fat over 60, Butt explains that strength and resistance training is the best way to lose fat mass.
“As mentioned, losing weight as we age is challenging due to the loss of muscle, and testosterone in men, and menopause in women.
“We can use both bodyweight or weight training for effective results. I would always suggest speaking with your doctor before starting any physical activity over the age of 60.”
He also says that aerobic exercise is a winner, in particular brisk walking. He adds that running, biking, rowing, swimming, and fitness classes are also good ways to burn fat.
Give the four below exercises a try to help target the stomach area and strengthen the abdominal muscles. Do the allocated reps for each move, leaving a 60-second rest between each exercise. Then, repeat the circuit twice more. You may want to use one of the best yoga mats beneath you to stay comfortable.
- Lie on a mat on the floor with your feet flat on the floor.
- Hold a weight or a heavy item, such as a tin of beans or a water bottle, straight above your chest.
- Keep your neck in line with your spine as you crunch upwards, keeping your arms straight up above and the weight you’re using, above your head.
- Pause here for a second, then slowly lower down.
- Aim for 10 to 15 reps.
- Lie flat on your mat with arms by your side.
- Keep your legs together and lift them upwards until your feet are above the hips. You want to aim to keep the legs straight throughout, however, this can be tricky, so a little bend in the knees is ok.
- Keeping your back pressed to the ground, slowly lower your legs back to the start position, stopping just before your feet touch the ground. Then go again!
- Aim for 10 reps.
- Lie on your mat, feet flat on the floor and knees bent.
- Lift your torso off the ground, as well as your feet, and rest yourself on your glutes.
- Hold a weight with both hands in front of your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body.
- Turn the weight, and your torso, from side to side, keeping the legs still and toes pointing forwards.
- Aim for 10 reps on each side.
- Get down on the ground, face down, and rest your body on your forearms and toes.
- Your body should remain in a straight position, with muscles engaged, and shoulders directly over elbows.
- Keep breathing and squeeze the core as you hold this for 45 seconds.
Lucy is a freelance journalist specializing in health, fitness and lifestyle. She was previously the Health and Fitness Editor across various women's magazines, including Woman&Home, Woman and Woman’s Own as well as Editor of Feel Good You. She has also previously written for titles including Now, Look, Cosmopolitan, GQ, Red and The Sun.
She lives and breathes all things fitness; working out every morning with a mix of running, weights, boxing and long walks. Lucy is a Level 3 personal trainer and teaches classes at various London studios. Plus, she's pre- and post-natal trained and helps new mums get back into fitness after the birth of their baby. Lucy claims that good sleep, plenty of food and a healthy gut (seriously, it's an obsession) are the key to maintaining energy and exercising efficiently. Saying this, she's partial to many classes of champagne and tequila on the rocks whilst out with her friends.
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