Besides being beneficial for the heart, strength training can also reduce accumulation of fat in the liver and improve blood glucose regulation, says a study on mice.
The study, led by a team from the University of Campinas in Brazil, showed strength training can reduce fat stored in the liver and improve blood glucose control in obese mice, even without overall loss of body weight.
The findings suggest strength training may be a fast and effective strategy for reducing the risk of fatty liver disease and diabetes in obese people.
"That these improvements in metabolism occurred over a short time even though the overall amount of body fat was unchanged, it suggests strength training can have positive effects on health and directly affect liver's function and metabolism," said Pereira de Moura from the varsity.
"It may be a more effective, non-drug and low-cost strategy for improving health," she said.
During the research, published in the Journal of Endocrinology, the team investigated the effects of strength-based exercise on liver fat accumulation, blood glucose regulation and markers of inflammation in obese mice.
Obese mice performed strength training over a short time, the equivalent of which in humans would not be enough to change their body fat composition.
After this short-term training, the mice had less fatty livers, reduced levels of inflammatory markers and their blood glucose regulation improved, despite no change in their overall body weight.
These health benefits would be even more effective if accompanied by the reduction of body fat, she added.
Based on these findings, obese individuals could be directed to increase their activities through strength training, but should always first consult their primary care physician.
More investigation is required in both animals and people to understand how liver metabolism is affected by strength training.
Obesity, a growing health epidemic globally, leads to inflammation in the liver and impairs its ability to regulate blood glucose. It increases the risk of Type-2 diabetes and its associated complications, including nerve and kidney damage.