One More Reason to Exercise- Reducing Dangerous Visceral Fat

We all know that exercise makes us look good and feel good and reduces our risk of many dangerous diseases and illnesses, but let’s face it, most people exercise because they want to “look good” and lose weight. A recent study at John Hopkins University School of Medicine showed a dramatically positive result from exercise that many of you may have overlooked in your reasoning to exercise. Much information has been available to the public about the dangers of abdominal fat- the fat that covers our belly and waist. But this fat is not nearly as dangerous as visceral fat- fat which settles deep inside the abdominal wall and surrounds the organs. This type of fat has been shown to be a risk factor for heart disease. John Hopkins had a research group that participated in three 60 minute exercise sessions per week for 6 months. At the end of the 6 months, expected changes like improved cardiovascular efficiency and muscular strength were shown, yet the participants only lost an average of four pounds! Was this study a failure? NO! When the researchers tested the subject’s body composition, they found that there was a huge shift in body composition from fat to muscle. More importantly, the subjects had dropped 20 percent of their visceral fat. They concluded “the greatest overall health benefit from exercise is not an increased fitness level, but the changing of one’s body composition, particularily abdominal fat.” Since abdominal fat is a marker for diabetes and its precursor, metabolic syndrome- this is essential information for all of us who store fat around our middles, and who are frustrated that we are not seeing as much change on the outside as we expected. Remember the old saying “It’s what’s on the inside that counts!”

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