Exercise Aids in Reducing Total Fat In Postmenopausal Women

Exercising 300 minutes per week has been shown to be better at reducing total fat and other adiposity measures, especially for obese women, during a one-year clinical trial.

This is an important finding because body fat has been associated with increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, (as well as other diseases) according to an article published online by JAMA Oncology.

Physical activity is an inexpensive, noninvasive strategy for disease prevention advocated by public health agencies around the world, with recommendations to be physically active at least 150 minutes per week at moderate intensity or 60 to 75 minutes per week at vigorous intensity for overall health.

Postmenopausal women may derive unique benefits from exercise because body fat, abdominal fat and adult weight gain have been associated with increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, according to background in the study.

Christine M. Friedenreich, Ph.D. of Alberta Health Services, Canada, and colleagues compared 300 minutes of exercise per week with 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise for its effect on body fat in 400 inactive postmenopausal women who were evenly split into the two exercise groups.

The women, who had body mass index (BMI) 22 to 40, were asked not to change their usual diet. Any aerobic activity that raised the heart rate 65 percent to 75 percent of heart rate reserve was permitted, and most of the supervised and home-based activities involved the elliptical trainer, walking, bicycling and running.

Average reduction in total body fat were larger in the 300-minute vs. 150 minute group (by 1 percent body fat). Subcutaneous abdominal fat, as well as total abdominal fat, BMI, waist circumference and waist-to-hip ration also decreased more in the 300-minute group. Some of the effects were stronger for obese women (BMI greater than or equal to 30) for change in weight, BMI, waist and hip circumference, and subcutaneous abdominal fat, according to the results.

A very important fact mentioned in this study stated “A possible association between physical activity and post-menopausal breast cancer risk is supported by more than 100 epidemiologic studies, with strong biologic rationale supporting fat loss as an important (though not the only) mediator of this association. Our finding of a dose-response effect of exercise on total fat mass and several other adiposity which means excessive fat in the body measures including abdominal fat, especially in obese women, provides a  basis for encouraging postmenopausal women to exercise at least 300 minutes/week, longer than the minimum recommended for cancer prevention,” the study concludes.