Although lifestyle changes encompassing weight loss and exercise remain the cornerstone of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) management, the effect of different types of exercise on NAFLD is unknown. This study defines the effect of modified high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on liver fat, cardiac function and metabolic control in adults with NAFLD. Twenty-three patients with NAFLD [age 54±10 years, body mass index (BMI) 31±4 kg/m2, intra-hepatic lipid >5%) were assigned to either 12 weeks HIIT or standard care (controls). HIIT involved thrice weekly cycle ergometry for 30–40 min. MRI and spectroscopy were used to assess liver fat, abdominal fat and cardiac structure/function/energetics. Glucose control was assessed by oral glucose tolerance test and body composition by air displacement plethysmography. Relative to control, HIIT decreased liver fat (11±5% to 8±2% compared with 10±4% to 10±4% P=0.019), whole-body fat mass (35±7 kg to 33±8 kg compared with 31±9 kg to 32±9 kg, P=0.013), alanine (52±29 units/l to 42±20 units/l compared with 47±22 units/l to 51±24 units/l, P=0.016) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST; 36±18 units/l to 33±15 units/l compared with 31±8 units/l to 35±8 units/l, P=0.017) and increased early diastolic filling rate (244±84 ml/s to 302±107 ml/s compared with 255±82 ml/s to 251±82 ml/s, P=0.018). There were no between groups differences in glucose control. Modified HIIT reduces liver fat and improves body composition alongside benefits to cardiac function in patients with NAFLD and should be considered as part of the broader treatment regimen by clinical care teams. ISRCTN trial ID: ISRCTN78698481.

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