Any exercise can help trim belly fat for obese and sedentary people, but to reap other health benefits, they’ll need to ramp up the effort, a new study says.
Researchers found that when middle-aged, obese adults moved regularly—even with just a half-hour of slow walking—they drop a few pounds and shed a couple of inches from their waistlines.
But to lower people's blood sugar levels, higher-intensity exercise was needed. Over time, lower blood sugar levels could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
For this study, higher-intensity didn’t mean boot camp classes or cross-fit.
"The people in this study were middle-aged, sedentary and abdominally obese," said lead researcher Robert Ross, an exercise physiologist at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada. "We didn't have them running. 'High-intensity' just meant walking briskly on a treadmill. It was very doable.”
Ross and colleagues recruited 300 people in their 40s and 50s who were abdominally obese and led relatively sedentary lifestyles. They then randomly assigned everyone to a control group that remained sedentary or one of three exercise groups. The exercisers had five supervised sessions a week for six months. One group did a low amount of low-intensity activity (a half-hour of slow walking); another group did the low-intensity regimen, but for an hour. The third exercise group got higher-intensity exercise, in this case, faster-paced walking.
The fast walkers burned the same number of calories as their slower-paced peers who walked for an hour, but they did it in 40 minutes. After six months, all three-exercise groups had lost a small amount of weight and one or two inches from their waistlines, on average. But only the higher-intensity group showed an improvement in blood sugar levels.
"Will this regimen, if performed for years, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes?" Ross asked. "We don't know. But I like the chances.”
Read more about how reducing your risk of diabetes with exercise at BlackHealthMatters.Com.
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(Photo: Eleonora Ghioldi / Getty Images)
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