Do you prefer to walk at a slower pace but fear that you will never burn body fat, especially that in the abdominal area? The research we are talking about today reassures you. Walking just under 5 kilometers a day for 4 days a week and at a slower pace is even more effective than walking at a very fast pace when it comes to fighting visceral fat. The study is very recent and was published a few days ago in the journal Nutrients by a group of American scientists (La New et al, Nutrients, 2022).
The problem of visceral fat
In America, since 1960, cases of obesity have more than tripled, thus increasing the risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart attack, cellular degeneration and lung disease. But fat distribution plays an essential role when it comes to increased risk of disease. In fact, visceral fat is more dangerous than more evenly distributed subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is more common in men and postmenopausal women and is also particularly resistant. Exercise helps to counteract the accumulation of visceral fat. However, when this is already there, does it still help? And if so, is more intense or moderate physical activity better?
How a slow walk counteracts visceral fat and diabetes, the experiment
To answer this question, scientists developed a study recruiting 41 women, all postmenopausal, aged between 50 and 70 and sedentary. The women were divided into two groups. The first group was asked to walk at a very fast pace, at 6.6 km/h, for 4.8 km, four days a week for seven months. The second group was asked to walk 4.8 km, 4 days a week, for 7 months, but at a slower pace, 5.5 km/h, considered an average step. At the beginning, during and at the end of the experiment, the women were subjected to tests to measure visceral fat. What emerged was that, in the long term and therefore at the end of 7 months, both walking at a very fast pace and walking at a slower pace proved to be effective in reducing visceral fat. However, noteworthy is the fact that clearer, faster and more significant results were observed in those who walked at a slower pace. This is because, by walking at a slower pace, it is possible to maintain the same intensity for a longer time and this has brought more benefits in terms of visceral fat reduction. Those who walk at a very fast pace, on the other hand, maintain the same pace for a shorter period of time and this discontinuity probably causes a decrease in benefits. Also very interesting is the consideration that an active lifestyle helps improve insulin sensitivity, thus reducing the risk of developing diabetes. In this case, only the duration of physical exercise, 170 minutes per week, is important, and not the intensity of the effort. So, both brisk and slower walking are helpful.
Therefore, here is another proof of how important it is to stay active. And when we talk about physical exercise we do not mean complex activities such as swimming or cycling, but also a simple walk, which can also be performed at a slower pace, being beneficial in combating overweight, visceral fat and diabetes.