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Exercise Reduces Dangerous
Intra-Abdominal Fat
Excerpt By Jamie Cohen & Amy Malick, ABCNews.com

Doctors report good news this week for post-menopausal women who may be discouraged from exercising by a scale that won't budge.

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that overweight post-menopausal women who do light exercise for 45 minutes three to four times per week can lose three pounds per year.

This might not seem like a lot, but when you consider that most people, middle aged and beyond, usually gain one to three pounds every year, you are looking at a solid net benefit of four to six pounds.

Even more important, the study reports that women who engage in moderate exercise can shed a large amount of intra-abdominal fat, up to 16 percent. This type of fat, which surrounds the organs inside the body, is a hidden risk factor for many life-threatening conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and several cancers.

"You can't see this fat but it's there," says Dr. Ann McTiernan, the study's lead researcher and a member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash.

Beating Back the Gain

So, while you may feel frustrated that you can't fit into you goal dress size, "exercise can have health-promoting benefits that are not visible to the naked eye," says Madelyn Fernstrom, director of the Weight Management Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

After menopause, most women experience unwanted weight gain and worry about the health risks of these extra pounds. In the past, many women have relied on hormone replacement therapy to keep their weight down, but with recent findings that HRT may increase breast cancer and heart disease, hormone therapy may no longer be an option.

Exercise may therefore provide a new and welcome alternative. "Since intra-abdominal fat is correlated with increased risk of chronic disease, adding a strategy that lowers body fat and lowers risk of these diseases without the concern over HRT is tremendously appealing," explains Dr. Leslie Bonci.

Anyone Can Do It

And there's no need for marathon training, spandex, or heavy-duty aerobics sessions. In fact, the majority of women in the study exercised by simply walking or bicycling — even on an indoor stationary bike. So, "this type of change is achievable even in one's own home," says Leslie Bonci, Director of Sports Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh, "there's no need to join a gym."

While the current study dealt solely with post-menopausal women, it is likely that exercise will produce the same benefit among men and younger women. In fact, Dr. McTiernan has future plans to test how exercising compares to dieting for reducing intra-abdominal fat. She hypothesizes that, when it comes to shedding this hidden yet dangerous fat, exercising may be even more important than counting calories.

So don't let the mirror sabotage your health plan. Exercise will help you achieve the ultimate in weight loss — becoming skinny on the inside!


Reference Source 104

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