Modest exercise can undo negative effects of belly fat

WASHINGTON - Moderate exercise can reduce the negative effects of belly fat, which is linked to metabolic syndrome, says a new study. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

‘The benefits of exercise were apparent, even without a change in diet. We saw improvements in insulin sensitivity, less fat in the liver, and less inflammation in belly fat,’ said Jeffrey Woods, a professor at the University of Illinois (U-I) who led the study.

Inflammation is the response of body tissues to injury or irritation; characterised by pain, swelling, redness and heat. Kinesiology is the science of human movement and it focusses on how the body functions and moves.

Belly fat is particularly dangerous because it produces inflammatory molecules that enter the bloodstream and increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes, he said.

Woods and his colleagues examined the effects of diet and exercise on the inflammation of visceral or belly fat tissue in mice. A high-fat diet was first used to induce obesity in the animals.

After six weeks, mice were assigned to either a sedentary group, an exercise group, a low-fat diet group, or a group that combined a low-fat diet with exercise for six or twelve weeks so the scientists could compare the effects in both the short and long term, said an Illinois release.

‘The surprise was that the combination of diet and exercise didn’t yield dramatically different and better results than diet or exercise alone,’ said Vicki Vieira, study co-author.

Woods said that it is a promising finding. ‘The benefits of exercise were apparent even if the animals were still eating a high-fat diet. That tells me that exercise could decrease or prevent these life-threatening diseases by reducing inflammation even when obesity is still present.’

‘The good news is that this was a very modest exercise programme. The mice ran on a treadmill only about one-fourth of a mile five days a week. For humans, that would probably translate into walking 30 to 45 minutes a day five days a week,’ he noted.

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