Posted on Jul 18, 2013, 6 a.m.
Moderate-intensity exercise reduces fat stored around the heart, in the liver, and in the abdomen, among type-2 diabetics.
While exercise is commonly recommended for people with type-2 diabetes, its effects on fat deposits in the body have been unclear. Hildo J. Lamb, from Leiden University Medical Center (The Netherlands), and colleagues assessed the effects of moderate-intensity exercise on organ-specific fat accumulation and cardiac function in 12 type 2 diabetes patients, average age 46 years, independent of any other lifestyle or dietary changes. The subjects underwent MRI examinations before and after six months of moderate-intensity exercise totaling between 3.5 and six hours per week and featuring two endurance and two resistance training sessions. The exercise cycle culminated with a 12-day trekking expedition. MRI results showed that, although cardiac function was not affected, the exercise program led to a significant decrease in fat volume in the abdomen, liver and around the heart, all of which have been previously shown to be associated with increased cardiovascular risk. Noting that: " we observed that the second layer of fat around the heart, the peracardial fat, behaved similarly in response to exercise training as intra-abdominal, or visceral fat," the study authors observed that: "The fat content in the liver also decreased substantially after exercise" – of particular importance to people with type 2 diabetes, many of whom are overweight or obese. The investigators conclude that: “A 6-month exercise intervention in type 2 diabetes mellitus decreased hepatic [triglyceride] content and visceral abdominal and paracardial fat volume, which are associated with increased cardiovascular risk.”
Jonker JT, de Mol P, de Vries ST, Widya RL, Hammer S, Lamb HJ, et al. “Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Changes in Tissue-Specific Fat Distribution and Cardiac Function.” Radiology. 2013 Jun 25.