If you lead a sedentary life you risk building up large amounts of visceral fat in your body.


Visceral fat surrounds your vital organs, the fat is located in the abdominal cavity (stomach area).

According to researchers from Duke University Medical Center, exercise can significantly reduce the amount of visceral fat you carry around. The more exercise you do, the more of this type of dangerous fat you will lose. Researchers in this study said that extra exercise can reverse the amount you have, while some moderate exercise can stop your visceral fat mounting up.

If, on the other hand, you remain inactive, more likely than not you will pile on the weight at a rate of four pounds per year, say researchers.

The more visceral fat you carry around the higher your chances of developing insulin resistance (leading to type two diabetes), heart disease and other metabolic syndromes.

Visceral fat is not the fat that lies just under your skin, that type is called subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is deep inside.

You can read about this study in the October issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology. Lead author, Dr Cris Slentz, said, “In our study, the control group that did not exercise saw a sizable and significant 8.6 percent increase in visceral fat in only six months. We also found that a modest exercise program equivalent to a brisk 30-minute walk six times a week can prevent accumulation of visceral fat, while even more exercise can actually reverse the amount of visceral fat.Until we are able to prevent the weight many dieters regain following short-term dieting success, we should place a greater national emphasis toward prevention. It will be a challenge to change the message from ‘exercise now to lose weight’ to ‘exercise now so in five years you won’t be 20 pounds heavier.'”

The team studied 175 men and women, they were all overweight and led sedentary lives – they were all beginning to show signs of lipid problems. Four groups were created and the 175 people were placed into them at random. Each group carried out different levels of activity/inactivity:

a. No exercise at all.
b. Low dose moderate intensity activity (walking 12 miles per week
c. Low dose vigorous intensity activity (12 miles jogging per week)
d. High dose vigorous intensity activity (20 miles jogging each week)

All 175 people were told not to alter their diets. The aim of the study was to see what impact exercise alone might have.

The whole trial lasted six months for the couch potatoes (inactive ones) and eight months for the other three groups (the active group were given a two-month start to get them fit enough to do the trial).

All activity was supervised.

Computed Tomography (CT) was used at the beginning and end of the trial (to determine the extent and distribution of fat change).

Slentz found there was no significant difference in visceral fat levels among the low exercise groups. He concluded that mild exercise helps stop the increase, but does not reduce. The inactive group experienced increases in visceral fat levels.

He found that the more people exercised, and the higher their intensity, the faster they lost their excess visceral fat. He also added that jogging 17 to 20 miles a week may seem like a lot. However, all the participants were soon able to run those amounts each week quite comfortably.

The most active group saw visceral fat levels drop by 6.9% in six months, subcutaneous fat levels dropped by 7%.

Written by Christian Nordqvist
Editor – Medical News Today