Fats, or lipids, are among the three main macronutrients, along with carbohydrates and proteins, that our body needs.
The breakdown of triglycerides, one of the common forms of fats, could yield double the energy per gram than our body gets from carbohydrates.
Unused energy is not expelled but stored as lipids in adipose cells. The adipose tissue beneath the skin maintains the body temperature, while the fatty tissue around our internal organs provides support and acts as shock absorber.
However, an excess of lipids, particularly abdominal fat, could induce diabetes, high blood pressure and various kinds of cardiovascular diseases.
That said, reducing visceral fat is essential to a healthy and long life.
According to Wang Qingren, a renowned Chinese medicine practitioner during the late Qing Dynasty, abdominal breathing could help reduce visceral fat as the deepened upward and downward movements of the diaphragm facilitate the movement of our internal organs, which might help reduce our body’s fatty layers.
The following simple stretching exercises could also help reduce our belly fat:
1. Extend your arms with palms facing out and fingers pointing upwards, while moving your left or right foot out shoulder-width simultaneously. (Original position, picture 1)
2. Exhale slowly and bring the extended left arm towards the torso laterally to push the left shoulder blade against the body (picture 2). Do the same thing for the right arm. Repeat the pressing twice for each of the shoulders.
3. Fully extend the arms with palms pointing up and exhale slowly (picture 3). Repeat the pressing twice for each of the shoulders as described in Step 2 (picture 4).
It is worth noting that the torso should stay still during the whole process. By pressing the shoulder blades, stimulation is applied to the acupressure points of Feishu (肺俞穴), which could enhance lung expansion and functions.
This stretching exercise, together with other moderately vigorous exercises such as 30-minute brisk walking every day, can help reduce belly fat more noticeably.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 9
Translation by Darlie Yiu with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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