HIIT for Liver Health EurêkAlert!

New research from the University of Western Sydney suggests 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.

One of the most prevalent liver diseases in the world, affecting around 20-30% of the population, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterized by the excessive accumulation of fat in the liver of people without excessive consumption of alcohol. The growing burden of obesity and metabolic syndrome is attributed to its high prevalence and emergence as a serious health problem, as well as its potential to cause cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Due to the lack of effective therapies, lifestyle interventions targeting weight loss continue to be the primary approach for the management of NAFLD.

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

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.

The review is also the first to include only studies that assessed liver fat by benchmark non-invasive 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 the control (-2.85% for HIIT versus control and -3.144% for MICT versus control).

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

The authors say the research has practical recommendations and implications for clinical practice, and could help reduce NAFLD.

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

“Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a predictor of metabolic disorders, closely related 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, HIIT and MICT have been shown to improve liver fat to similar degrees.

“It’s useful information to know that by training harder in less time with HIIT, you can achieve the same results as MICT, which is ideal for those with busy and light lifestyles. of 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 meaningful improvements in liver fat as long as they exercised. exercise regularly above moderate intensity, ”said Dr. Sabag.

The review builds on previous studies that showed comparable effects of HIIT to MICT in 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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