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Resistance exercise reduces liver fat and its mediators in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease independent of weight loss

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kate HallsworthORCiD, Dr Kieren Hollingsworth, Dr Christian Thoma, Sarah Moore, Professor Roy Taylor, Professor Chris Day, Professor Mike TrenellORCiD


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Background Lifestyle interventions focusing on weight loss remain the cornerstone of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) management. Despite this, the weight losses achieved in research trials are not easily replicated in the clinic and there is an urgent need for therapies independent of weight loss. Aerobic exercise is not well sustained and the effectiveness of the better tolerated resistance exercise upon liver lipid and mediators of liver lipid has not been assessed. Methods Sedentary adults with clinically defined NAFLD were assigned to 8 weeks of resistance exercise (n=11) or continued normal treatment (n=8). Results 8 weeks of resistance exercise elicited a 13% relative reduction in liver lipid (14.0 +/- 9.1 vs 12.2 +/- 9.0; p<0.05). Lipid oxidation (submaximal RQ Delta -0.020 +/- 0.010 vs -0.004 +/- 0.003; p<0.05), glucose control (-12% vs + 12% change AUC; p<0.01) and homeostasis model assessment insulin resistance (5.9 +/- 5.9 to 4.6 +/- 4.6 vs 4.7 +/- 2.1 to 5.1 +/- 2.5; p<0.05) were all improved. Resistance exercise had no effect on body weight, visceral adipose tissue volume, or whole body fat mass (p>0.05). Conclusion This is the first study to demonstrate that resistance exercise specifically improves NAFLD independent of any change in body weight. These data demonstrate that resistance exercise may provide benefit for the management for non-alcoholic fatty liver, and the long-term impact of this now requires evaluation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hallsworth K, Fattakhova G, Hollingsworth KG, Thoma C, Moore S, Taylor R, Day CP, Trenell MI

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Gut

Year: 2011

Volume: 60

Issue: 9

Pages: 1278-1283

Print publication date: 27/06/2011

ISSN (print): 0017-5749

ISSN (electronic): 1468-3288

Publisher: BMJ Group


DOI: 10.1136/gut.2011.242073


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Funder referenceFunder name
UK National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre on Ageing and Age-Related Diseases and Diabetes UK
Medical Research Council
Health-F2-2009-241762European Union