You might think the best way to lose that spare tire around your middle would be to take up a vigorous running program — say the Leadville 100, which ain’t going to happen for most of us.

Well, the good news is that you may actually slim down more quickly by taking up a strength training program — in other words, lift some weights several times per week.

That’s not to say that running or walking won’t help. They are definitely good ways to burn fat and straighten your heart and lungs.

But a new study in the journal Obesity says lifting may be the best way to deflate that tire.

Researchers studied more than 10,500 men over the age of 40, and found nice waist shrinkage from lifting weights compared to running around the park.

The idea is that as we age, we lose muscle cells. And muscle cells speed metabolism and burn calories even when we are sitting around.

The sad truth is that by age 25 or so, we lose about 1% of muscle mass per year, which is why when most of us hit middle age, we are spongy and have an ever increasing pants size in the waist.

In the study, men who lifted 5-7 times a week were able to lose more belly fat over the course of the study compared to guys who went for a regular run.

Once again, there’s nothing wrong with aerobic activity –it just looks like more muscle mass through the body helps rid the body of the spare tire around the middle. And as you’ve heard, that’s a horrible place to carry fat, since it tends to be more prone to get into the blood stream and clog up your arteries, cause diabetes, etc.

Several words of caution, however.

– It may not be a good idea to lift weights 5-7 days a week. You’ll likely suffer an injury.

– The advice is to start slow. Take what weight you can lift comfortably 8 times. You can then do three reps of eight. It may be smart to take that initial poundage and cut it in half when you are just starting out.

– Always do a different muscle group when you lift. Give the other parts at least two days off in between workouts. In other words, bench presses every day isn’t such a good idea. Maybe twice a week is better.

– Remember, it takes 48 hours for a muscle group to recover from lifting. Plan accordingly.

– Always warm up.

– Have a spotter or partner.

– Don’t ever hold your breath.

– Don’t lift if you have high blood pressure or some other medical problem

– Stretch, stretch, and stretch

– Muscle building or weight loss supplements are a waste of your money and will only slim your wallet.

– Pain does NOT equal gain.

– Keep an exercise log.

Have fun. Make lifting part of an overall fitness program, and you’ll be pleased with seeing some shrinkage of that bouncing middle.

Just be patient enough to give it some time to shrink. I’m sure that extra around the middle didn’t get there in overnight.