A combination of the right diet and regular exercise is the best way to lose weight, but that doesn’t mean that either one can’t stand on its own. TIME recently reports that type 2 diabetics can shed belly fat by simply increasing their physical activity.

Researchers from Leiden University Medical Center asked 12 middle-aged diabetics to undergo a six-month program of moderate exercises. The participants worked out for 3.5 to six hours a week, with two endurance and two resistance sessions capped by a 12-day hiking excursion. There was no change in their diet.

The volunteers were also given MRI scans before and after the weight loss program. Based on the results, there was a significant loss of fat in the heart, lungs, and abdominal areas of the participants.

Weight loss is very important for diabetes patients because as deep-seated fat (visceral fat) accumulates in the heart and liver, it releases compounds that may negatively affect the body’s calorie-breaking processes. And when fat deposits remain in these vital areas, they may increase the risk of cardiovascular and abdominal problems.

“The liver plays a central role in regulating total body fat distribution. Therefore, reduction of liver fat content and visceral fat volume by physical exercise are very important to reverse the adverse effects of lipid accumulation elsewhere, such as the heart and arterial vessel wall,” explains senior author Dr. Hildo J. Lamb.

This doesn’t only apply to diabetics. People who want to maintain their weight or those who are overweight and obese may also benefit from an increased activity. Burning fat may do more than just shrink your waistline, it may also improve your liver function, help your body break down calories faster, and strengthen your heart.


(Photo by yuan2003 via Flickr Creative Commons)

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