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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2005 Oct;99(4):1613-8. Epub 2005 Jul 7.

Inactivity, exercise, and visceral fat. STRRIDE: a randomized, controlled study of exercise intensity and amount.

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  • 1Division of Cardiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Despite the importance of randomized, dose-response studies for proper evaluation of effective clinical interventions, there have been no dose-response studies on the effects of exercise amount on abdominal obesity, a major risk factor for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. One hundred seventy-five sedentary, overweight men and women with mild to moderate dyslipidemia were randomly assigned to participate for 6 mo in a control group or for approximately 8 mo in one of three exercise groups: 1) low amount, moderate intensity, equivalent to walking 12 miles/wk (19.2 km) at 40-55% of peak oxygen consumption; 2) low amount, vigorous intensity, equivalent to jogging 12 miles/wk at 65-80% of peak oxygen consumption; or 3) high amount, vigorous intensity, equivalent to jogging 20 miles/wk (32.0 km). Computed tomography scans were analyzed for abdominal fat. Controls gained visceral fat (8.6 +/- 17.2%; P = 0.001). The equivalent of 11 miles of exercise per week, at either intensity, prevented significant accumulation of visceral fat. The highest amount of exercise resulted in decreased visceral (-6.9 +/- 20.8%; P = 0.038) and subcutaneous (-7.0 +/- 10.8%; P < 0.001) abdominal fat. Significant gains in visceral fat over only 6 mo emphasize the high cost of continued inactivity. A modest exercise program, consistent with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control/American College of Sports Medicine (CDC/ACSM), prevented significant increases in visceral fat. Importantly, a modest increase over the CDC/ACSM exercise recommendations resulted in significant decreases in visceral, subcutaneous, and total abdominal fat without changes in caloric intake.

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