Exercise Fights 'Hidden' Body Fat
Study Shows Inactivity Can Lead to Buildup of Fat Deep Inside Belly
WebMD News Archive
How Do You Compare?
Slentz's study included 175 men and women in North Carolina. See how you
compare to them:
- All were overweight, inactive, and had mild-to-moderate cholesterol
- They were 40-65 years old.
- The women were postmenopausal.
- None had diabetes, high blood pressure, or plans to diet.
- Nearly 20% were minorities.
Now, consider what participants agreed to do for six months:
- Stay sedentary (the comparison group)
- Get low amounts of moderate-intensity exercise (equal to walking 12 miles
- Get low amounts of vigorous-intensity exercise (equal to jogging 12 miles
- Get high amounts of vigorous-intensity exercise (equal to jogging 20 miles
Participants used treadmills, stationary bikes, and elliptical trainers.
They were directly supervised or wore heart-rate monitors to check their
They were also counseled not to diet or change their diet during the
Blasting Belly Fat
Before-and-after imaging scans of the belly were done to check visceral fat.
- Visceral fat rose by nearly 9% in the idle group.
- Visceral fat didn't change with low amounts of exercise (at either
- Visceral fat dropped 7%, on average, in people who got a lot of vigorous
The group that got the most vigorous exercise also had a 7% drop in fat
around their waistlines. They were the only group that lost fat.
On one hand, the study shows the high price of inactivity, states
Then again, it also shows that people with some extra pounds and no exercise
habits can change their ways and reap the rewards.
Modest exercisers logged the equivalent of 11 miles per week. They matched
current recommendations from the CDC and American College of Sports Medicine,
the researchers note.
Those who got the most exercise did the equivalent of jogging 17 miles
weekly. "While this may seem like a lot of exercise, our previously
sedentary and overweight subjects were quite capable of doing this amount,"
"I don't believe that people in general have gotten lazier," says
Slentz. "It's more that they are working too hard or are at their desks
working on computers with fewer opportunities to exercise. The situation is out
The name of the game is regaining that balance by getting more exercise, the
Consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program.