SATURDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- If you want to burn fat
and lose weight, aerobic exercise beats resistance training, a new
"We not trying to discourage people from resistance training," said study author Leslie Willis, clinical research coordinator at Duke University Medical Center and an exercise physiologist.
Previous studies have shown that resistance training has many
benefits, including improving blood sugar control, she said, but
the effects of it on fat reduction have not been conclusive.
The new study, published Dec. 15 in the
Journal of Applied Physiology, compared resistance training
to aerobic exercise to determine which is best for weight and fat
The new study results suggest for people short on time, focusing
on aerobic exercise is the best way to lose weight and fat, Willis
Willis' team assigned 234 middle-aged men and women, all
overweight or obese, to one of three groups for the eight-month
study. The resistance-training group worked out three times a week,
with instructions to exercise about three hours total. They used
eight different weight machines.
The aerobic group put in about 12 miles a week on elliptical
machines or treadmills, putting in about 133 minutes a week, or
about 2 1/4 hours.
The combination group worked out three days a week, putting in
the combined effort of the resistance training and the aerobic
In all, 119 finished the study. Those who did aerobic exercise
or the combination reduced total body mass and fat mass more than
those in the resistance group, but they were not substantially
different from each other, Willis said.
For instance, the aerobic only group lost 3.8 pounds and the
combination group lost 3.6 pounds.
The combination group did notice the largest reduce in waist
circumference. A large waist (over 35 inches in women, over 40 in
men) is a risk factor for heart disease and other problems.
The combination group ''did double the time commitment without
significantly improving the result over the aerobic group alone for
fat mass," Willis noted.
"If fat mass is something a person wants to target, I would say your most time-efficient method would be to focus on the cardiovascular exercise," she said.
"Resistance training did increase lean mass, but it doesn't change fat mass, so the pounds didn't change," she said.
Dr. Timothy Church, director of preventive medicine research at
Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., said
experts have known that "aerobic exercise really helps with weight
However, he said, the study results are no reason to dismiss
resistance training. People lose muscle mass as they age, he said,
and resistance training, which helps maintain muscle strength, can
help with quality-of-life issues.
It can help people perform such small but important everyday
tasks as lifting their grandchildren and getting luggage into
overhead bins on airplanes, he said.
To learn more about aerobic exercise, visit the
Georgia State University.
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