A spare tire doesn’t just make it harder to button your waistband - it can hurt your heart and boost risk of diabetes and cancer. But you can flatten it fast by speeding up your workouts.

In an 8-month Duke University study of 175 overweight 40-to 65 year olds, two groups exercised and a third stayed sedentary. The couch potatoes’ deep, organ smothering abdominal fat piked 8.6%. A group that did low-intensity workouts (such as walking at an easy pace) for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, kept their girth from growing - though they did gain 1 1/2 pounds.

The real rewards came with higher-intensity workouts: In the same amount of time, the third group shrank their waistlines AND belly fat by 7% - and they lost 6 pounds.

All exercise helps prevent fat gain - but to lose abdominal fat, you have to work harder.

Just go for brisk walking uphill, jogging on a flat terrain, or pedaling a bike about 12 mph. Beginners should start with 10 to 15 minutes and slowly work their way up.