Effect of Exercise Training Intensity on Abdominal Visceral Fat and Body Composition

IRVING, BRIAN A.1,5; DAVIS, CHRISTOPHER K.1,3; BROCK, DAVID W.1,5; WELTMAN, JUDY Y.4; SWIFT, DAMON1; BARRETT, EUGENE J.2,4; GAESSER, GLENN A.1; WELTMAN, ARTHUR1,2,4

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181801d40
CLINICAL SCIENCES: Clinical Relevant
Abstract

The metabolic syndrome is a complex clustering of metabolic defects associated with physical inactivity, abdominal adiposity, and aging.

Purpose: To examine the effects of exercise training intensity on abdominal visceral fat (AVF) and body composition in obese women with the metabolic syndrome.

Methods: Twenty-seven middle-aged obese women (mean ± SD; age = 51 ± 9yr and body mass index = 34 ± 6 kg·m−2) with the metabolic syndrome completed one of three 16-wk aerobic exercise interventions: (i) no-exercise training (Control): seven participants maintained their existing levels of physical activity; (ii) low-intensity exercise training (LIET): 11 participants exercised 5 d·wk−1 at an intensity ≤ lactate threshold (LT); and (iii) high-intensity exercise training (HIET): nineparticipants exercised 3 d·wk−1 at an intensity > LT and 2 d·wk−1 ≤ LT. Exercise time was adjusted to maintain caloric expenditure (400 kcal per session). Single-slice computed tomography scans obtained at the L4-L5 disc space and midthigh were used to determine abdominal fat and thigh muscle cross-sectional areas. Percent body fat was assessed by air displacement plethysmography.

Results: HIET significantly reduced total abdominal fat (P < 0.001), abdominal subcutaneous fat (P = 0.034), and AVF (P = 0.010). There were no significant changes observed in any of these parameters within the Control or the LIET conditions.

Conclusions: The present data indicate that body composition changes are affected by the intensity of exercise training with HIET more effectively for reducing total abdominal fat, subcutaneous abdominal fat, and AVF in obese women with the metabolic syndrome.

Author Information

1Departments of Human Services, 2Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 3Pediatrics, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, 4General Clinical Research Center, and 5Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

Address for correspondence: Arthur Weltman, Ph.D., Exercise Physiology Laboratory, 203 Memorial Gymnasium, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904; E-mail: alw2v@virginia.edu.

Submitted for publication November 2007.

Accepted for publication May 2008.

©2008The American College of Sports Medicine