Does HIIT improve liver health?

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New research from the University of Western Sydney has suggested that aerobic exercise interventions incorporating either high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) are effective in improving non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. .

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterized by excessive fat accumulation in the liver of people without excessive alcohol consumption, and it affects approximately 20-30% of the population. Due to the lack of effective therapies, lifestyle interventions that target weight loss, such as HIIT training, continue to be the primary approach to managing this condition.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, The effect of high-intensity interval training versus moderate-intensity continuous training on liver fat: a systematic review and meta-analysis is the first review to determine the effect of aerobic exercise on liver fat by comparing HIIT to MICT.

Analyze the effects of HIIT

For this review, researchers from the University of Western Sydney, the University of Sydney and the University of Queensland looked at more than 28,000 studies, with the main analysis including 19 studies involving 745 adult participants.

The review is the first to include only studies that assessed liver fat by gold standard noninvasive measurement techniques such as proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (H-MRS) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Pooled analysis showed that HIIT and MICT resulted in a clinically significant reduction in liver fat compared to control (-2.85% for HIIT compared to control and -3.144% MICT compared to control).

Additionally, HIIT workouts (characterized by periods of high-intensity aerobic exercise alternating with periods of rest) were equally effective compared to MICT workouts (traditional aerobic training) in reducing liver fat despite the fact that they require less time and energy.

Recommendations for clinical practice

The authors said the research has practical recommendations and implications for clinical practice and may help reduce NAFLD.

Lead author, postdoctoral researcher at NICM Health Research Institute, Dr. Angelo Sabag, said that regular aerobic exercise is an important management intervention, whether it’s HIIT or MICT, and that if it’s not Left untreated, NAFLD can lead to serious complications.

“Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a predictor of metabolic disorders, closely linked to the development and severity of various diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

“Our review demonstrates the importance of regular aerobic exercise as an effective therapy in those at risk, with HIIT and MICT improving liver fat to similar degrees.

“It helps to know that by training harder in less time with HIIT, you can achieve the same results as with MICT, which is great for those with busy lifestyles and limited time.

“Another interesting finding was that even if people did not exercise at sufficient volumes to meet recommended physical activity guidelines, they could still achieve clinically significant improvements in liver fat as long as they exercised regularly. above moderate intensity,” Dr Sabag said.

The review builds on previous studies that have shown comparable effects of HIIT to MICT for improving cardiometabolic health, including cardiorespiratory fitness and blood pressure.

Further studies are recommended to determine the importance of exercise prescription variables on liver fat, such as exercise intensity. The authors also noted that although the study was of moderate to high quality, the sample size of studies involving a HIIT intervention was relatively small.

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