What Your Trouble Spots Say About Your Health

May 2, 2016

What Your Trouble Spots Say About Your Health

Wondering how to lose weight in your thighs and arms? As aggravated as you are by your fat zones — those diet-resistant trouble spots where most of your extra pounds are packed on — they could be more than a cosmetic nuisance. A number of recent scientific studies have made a connection between pockets of fat in certain body types and health conditions as varied as restless legs syndrome, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and post-menopausal memory loss.

It’s no news that people have different shaped bodies. But according to the Mayo Clinic, where you carry your weight could make a difference in your health problems. People who have metabolic syndrome usually have apple-shaped bodies. This means they carry most of their weight around the abdomen and have large waist sizes. People with pear-shaped bodies, carry their weight around the hips and have smaller waist sizes. Pear shape does not increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other known complications of metabolic syndrome, while apple shape may increase the risk. Also, having an apple shape increases the risk of breast cancer.

While a waist measurement does not indicate you are overweight, it does show if your stomach or abdomen carries extra fat. Extra belly fat may hurt your health more than extra fat hips or thighs. For example, you have a higher risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and other health conditions if your waist measurement is:

  • Greater than 40 inches for a man
  • Greater than 35 inches for a woman

Women who are pear-shaped during childbearing years may turn into apple shapes at menopause. Because of hormone changes (lower estrogen levels), many pear-shaped women will start to gain this belly fat or android fat.

As far as chunky thighs are concerned, there is actually good news. A study published in the British Medical Journal found that men and women whose thighs are less than 60 centimeters (23.6 inches) in circumference have a higher risk of premature death and heart disease. Larger thighs may give some protection against heart disease and early death. Study recommendations were for doctors to get patients to do lower body exercise in order to increase the size of their thighs.

Although you can’t change your body type, there are small steps you can take to tone fat arms and other trouble areas and possibly improve your long-term health outlook.

Blast That Belly Fat

If you’re apple-shaped — which is to say, you carry your weight in the form of a tummy tire — you may have heard that you’re at an increased risk for having a heart attack and developing diabetes. But before you think you’re doomed, know that new research has cast doubt on that theory. Researchers at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom followed more than 220,000 people over 10 years and concluded that waist circumference was no better an indicator of future heart attacks than any other fat measurement. Still, the researchers say, no matter how it is measured, fat is bad for your heart, and you should try to lose it.

A study at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston showed that a big belly does in fact increase the likelihood of restless legs syndrome (RLS), a disorder that can affect your sleep and quality of life. The researchers questioned more than 65,000 male and female health professionals and found that people whose waists measured in the top 20 percent had a 1.5 times greater chance of developing RLS than those who measured in the bottom 20 percent. Scientists theorized that people with larger waists have fewer dopamine receptors in the brain, which plays a role in the condition.

To Blast That Belly Fat Sit-ups and other ab exercises can help build muscle, but cardio is the most effective way to shrink belly fat, research has found. Reducing stress may help as well — stress causes a hormonal chain reaction that leads to belly fat accumulation, says Mark Allen, coauthor of Fit Soul, Fit Body: 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You.