The aim of this study was to use whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) together with biochemical and anthropometric measurements to study the influence of regular moderate exercise with no dietary intervention on adipose tissue distribution in nonobese healthy women. We found significant decreases in both total (28.86+/-2.24 vs. 27.00+/-2.27 liters, P < 0.05) and regional fat depots (visceral fat: 1.68+/-0.21 vs. 1.26+/-0.18 liters, P < 0.01) using whole-body MRI despite no significant change in body weight, body mass index, or the waist-to-hip ratio. Interestingly, no changes in body fat content were found using anthropometry or impedance. There was a significant increase in high density lipoprotein cholesterol (1.58+/-0.06 vs. 1.66+/-0.08 mmol/L P < 0.02) following exercise although there were no changes in other blood lipids such as triglycerides. In summary, moderate aerobic exercise over a period of 6 mon resulted in a preferential loss in visceral fat in nonobese healthy women, and this may help to explain some of the health benefits associated with regular and moderate physical activity.
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