Exercise Eliminates Harmful Effects of Belly Fat
Belly fat has been linked to the development of metabolic syndrome that can lead to diabetes, heart disease and stroke. A new study shows that moderate exercise eliminates the harmful inflammatory effects of abdominal obesity, even without dieting.
The study from University of Illinois looked at how belly fat releases harmful chemicals that produce low-grade inflammation throughout the body, promoting disease. They compared the effects of exercise and diet in mice, finding that exercise alone can reduce disease risk, mediating the harmful effects of belly fat. Mice that were obese exercised, remained sedentary, or ate a low fat diet combined with exercise for six to twelve weeks, providing the researchers with evidence that exercise eliminates the harm associated with belly fat.
Vicki Vieira, the lead author of the study says the study was surprising, showing that either diet or exercise lowered inflammation from belly fat, reducing the harmful effects of belly fat. "The surprise was that the combination of diet and exercise didn't yield dramatically different and better results than diet or exercise alone."
Fat tissue releases inflammatory chemicals. According to Jeffrey Woods, a U of I professor of kinesiology and community health and faculty member in the U of I Division of Nutritional Sciences and the Integrative Immunology and Behavior Program, “Belly fat is particularly dangerous because it produces inflammatory molecules that enter the bloodstream and increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Obese people have higher levels of circulating inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), which are produced and secreted by fat tissue. This inflammation then triggers the systemic diseases linked with metabolic syndrome, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease."
Even when the mice ate a high fat diet, the benefits of exercise were apparent, making an emphasis on exercise alone an important behavioral approach that might reduce disease risks associated with obesity and belly fat.
Woods says his team believes that exercising, even for those who struggle with belly fat can yield positive results that lead to reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The researchers say walking 30 to 45 minutes a day five days a week should eliminate the harmful effects of belly fat, reducing risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.