The benefits of exercise are more than skin deep
We all choose to exercise for a specific reason. The majority of us hit the gym to look better naked. Others do so to boost their sporting performance, while a smaller percentage engage in some form of exercise simply for the health benefits. Whatever your reason for staying active, it is also worth noting the additional benefits that regular exercise delivers, because there are many…
Lower body fat levels not only look good, but they are also associated with improved health. So, while it can be argued whether or not exercise is capable of driving significant weight loss in isolation, there is no doubting the fact that the correct type of training has the potential to dramatically alter your body composition.
From increasing muscle mass through weight training, which could potentially increase your weight but will also boost your resting metabolism, to helping you metabolise stored fat more efficiently through fasted cardio when combined with the correct dietary approach, a combination of resistance training and aerobic exercise are the ideal tools to improve your health and your body.
From a health perspective, reducing body fat levels has also been linked with the prevention and the alleviation of a number of life-threatening conditions, particularly insulin resistance, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, and high triglyceride levels.
More specifically, there is a growing body of research that indicates that by losing just 5-10% of your body weight, which for the average person is potentially all derived from stored subcutaneous and visceral body fat, blood pressure decreases by 5 mmHg on average. In addition, a key marker of diabetes (Hemoglobin A1C) can decrease by half a point on average, almost equalling the effect that some anti-diabetic pills have on blood sugars. Furthermore, both fat and weight loss, even in modest amounts, in addition to regular exercise, can all help to significantly improve both your insulin response and your sensitivity to this powerful hormone.
These seemingly disproportionate benefits derived from such a small change in body weight have largely been attributed to the effects that reducing visceral body fat has on our health. This is because visceral fat (also known as organ fat or intra-abdominal fat) is closely associated with the metabolic dysfunction that drives the many lifestyle diseases already mentioned.
What’s more is that excess visceral body fat also increases our risk of dementia, according to various studies. For instance, a study conducted by healthcare company Kaiser Permanente that compared people with different levels of belly fat found that those who had the most belly fat were 145% more likely to develop dementia compared with those with the least amount.
Another reason why visceral fat is more detrimental to our health is the role it plays in chronic inflammation. Visceral adipose tissue produces pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), and it also produces less adiponectin – a beneficial hormone that makes the liver and muscles more insulin sensitive – than white fat cells.