Intra-abdominal fat is a dangerous type of hidden fat that wraps itself around internal organs. It increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes and certain forms of cancer.
Even people who are thin may be carrying around intra-abdominal fat. After menopause, women are at particular risk for developing intra-abdominal fat.
In general, a man with a waist size greater than 40-inches, or a woman with a waist more than 35-inches, is at risk for having a large amount of intra-abdominal fat.
Short of getting a CT scan or a MRI, it is hard to know for sure. If the waist of your pants is getting tighter over time, and you are unable to pinch more fat, it probably reflects increasing intra-abdominal fat.
In a recent study at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, 172 people who exercised moderately for a year lost up to 16 percent of their intra-abdominal fat. One group performed 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise on a treadmill or stationery bicycle three days a week, plus at home exercises, mostly brisk walking, two days a week. A weekly one-hour stretching class was the other group's main form of exercise.
Naturally, the group that worked out five days a week lost more fat overall.
Small but steady fat losses should be your game plan for losing as well as preventing intra-abdominal fat.
Just commit yourself to doing a moderate activity (preferably one that you enjoy!) on a regular basis. Swimming, for example, is a great cardiovascular exercise that also happens to be a great fat-burner. It is easy on the joints and unlikely to leave you with sore muscles or injuries.