Aim: Hepatitis C virus infection often complicates glucose intolerance, which can be caused by insulin resistance. Aerobic exercise can improve insulin resistance and decrease body fat in patients with diabetes. The aim of the present study is to clarify whether aerobic exercise improves insulin resistance and decreases body fat in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CH-C).
Methods: Seventeen patients with CH-C received nutrition education at entry and every two months thereafter. The following were evaluated before and after 6 months of walking at least 8000 steps/day monitored using a pedometer that started 2 months after entry: body composition, fat and muscle weight, visceral and subcutaneous fat areas (VFA and SFA, respectively), liver function tests, the Homeostatic Model of Assessment of Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR), serum tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interleukin (IL)-6, adiponectin, leptin and the Short Form-36.
Results: Fifteen of the 17 patients completed the study protocol. Bodyweight, body mass index, fat weight, VFA, SFA, alanine aminotransferase level and HOMA-IR were significantly decreased at the end of the study (P = 0.004, =0.004, =0.008, =0.041, =0.001, =0.023 and =0.002, respectively). Serum levels of TNF-α, IL-6 and adiponectin did not change, whereas those of leptin significantly decreased (P = 0.002).
Conclusion: Patients with CH-C could safely walk as aerobic exercise. Furthermore, walking improved insulin resistance and decreased body fat while lowering serum levels of leptin.