Strength training over a short time period may be a fast and effective strategy for reducing the risk of fatty liver disease and diabetes in obese people, a study has found. Researchers from the University of Campinas in Brazil investigated the effects of strength-based exercise on liver fat accumulation, blood glucose regulation and markers of inflammation in obese mice.
According to a study published in the Journal of Endocrinology, strength training can reduce fat stores in the liver and improve blood glucose control in obese mice. The study reports that strength training over a short time period, less than would be enough to change body fat composition in humans, was sufficient to reduce the accumulation of liver fat and improve regulation of blood glucose in obese mice, even without overall loss of body weight.
Obesity is a growing, global health epidemic that needs more effective intervention strategies to avoid debilitating complications including fatty liver disease and diabetes. Approximately 94 per cent of obese people is diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which leads to inflammation in this vital organ and impairs its ability to regulate blood glucose.
This increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and its associated serious complications, including nerve and kidney damage. Although increased physical activity is a widely accepted method of improving health and aiding weight loss, the relative benefits of different types, durations and intensities of physical activities are still under much debate.
A wealth of research has focussed on the benefits of energy-burning aerobic exercise, with the potential benefits of muscle-building strength and resistance training often neglected. For the study, obese mice were made to perform strength training over a short time period, the equivalent of which in humans would not be enough to change their body fat composition.
After this short-term training, the mice had less fatty livers, reduced levels of inflammatory markers and their blood glucose regulation were improved, despite no change in their overall body weight. "The fact that these improvements in metabolism occurred over a short time, even though the overall amount of body fat was unchanged, suggests that strength training can have positive effects on health and directly affect liver function and metabolism," said Leandro Pereira de Moura from the University of Campinas. However, mimicking strength training in animals is difficult and more investigation is required to really understand how liver metabolism is affected by it, Pereira de Moura said.
(With inputs from agencies.)