Oftentimes losing weight can seem very intimidating. We lead ourselves to believe it requires extreme amounts of exercise and dieting and we think our body compositions will only change with drastic life changes. But recent research suggests that those who have a lot of fat in their abdomen can lose weight with limited exercise.

A study published in March 2015 in the Annals of Internal Medicine observed 300 participants in their 40s and 50s who were abdominally obese, meaning a large amount of fat is stored in their gut. These people led mainly sedentary lives with little to no exercise.

Lead study author Robert Ross, PhD, exercise physiologist at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada and his team randomly assigned each of the participants to one of four groups. The first was the control group where volunteers didn’t exercise at all. The other three were exercise groups where volunteers went to five supervised exercise sessions a week for six months. The first exercise group did about a half-hour of slow walking during these sessions, the second group did low-intensity walking with a longer duration of an hour, and the third did higher-intensity exercise with faster-paced walking.

After the six months were completed, each exercise group had lost weight and one to two inches from their waistline, on average.

The results showed that the fast walkers, or the high-intensity group, burned the same number of calories as the slow-paced participants who walked for an hour, but the fast walkers did so in 40 minutes, therefore cutting off much exercise time for the same health benefits.

The researchers also concluded that “fixed amounts of exercise independent of exercise intensity resulted in similar reductions in abdominal obesity.”

In addition, only the high-intensity group showed improvement in their blood sugar levels out of the three exercise groups. Based on this data, perhaps powerwalking instead of strolling could have better effects on diabetes control, especially for those with type 2 diabetes.

Don’t be scared by the term “high-intensity exercise.” In this case, Dr. Ross says it simply means “walking briskly on a treadmill.” You could also do this walking outside if you prefer.

These patients didn’t completely alter their lifestyles to see benefits from exercise on their diabetes management and weight loss, especially on their waistlines. Powerwalking for 40 minutes 5 days a week is something most of us can manage in our exercise regimen. Consider talking to your healthcare team about starting a fast-walking routine to enable the benefits of exercise on your blood sugar and weight control.

To learn more about weight loss and diabetes:

Weight Loss and Diabetes: A Balancing Act
How to Start a Diabetic Weight Loss Plan
The Secret to Weight Loss? Counseling