Aerobic Exercise is best at Fat Burning and Weight Loss

Credit: National Cancer Institute Bill Branson (Photographer) - PD

(Best Syndication News) - Duke researchers found aerobic exercise offered optimum fat burning and weight loss compared to weight lifting (resistance training), or a combination of the two exercises. The study results were reported in the December 15, 2012 issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology.

To investigate, researchers conducted a randomized trial with 234 overweight and obese adults. The participants were randomly assigned to a resistance group, an aerobic group, or a combination of resistance and aerobic exercise group.

The resistance group was assigned a weight-lifting workout three times per week with each exercise done in three sets of 8 – 12 repetitions per set. The aerobic workout group was instructed to complete around 12 miles per week. The combo group was told to complete three days of exercise with three sets of each weight lifting exercise; each set involved 8-12 repetitions. The combo group was also tasked with 12 miles of aerobic exercise per week.

The aerobic exercise involved running, walking, or swimming. The resistance training involved weight lifting. Aerobic exercise has been previously proven to aid in weight loss. Weight lifting has demonstrated benefits for keeping muscle mass, and for improved glucose control. The researchers said that reduction of fat stores from lifting weights was not clear. That is why they designed this study to determine if weight lifting would aid in burning fat.

The participants were supervised during the exercise sessions to make sure they completed the assigned workout. Body composition information was collected on 119 participants to assess the fat burning for each group.

Both the aerobic-only group and the combo group of aerobic plus resistance training lost weight. The resistance-only group gained weight, but it was an increase in muscles. They also spent more time working out; around 180 minutes per week were spent in the gym. Comparatively, the aerobic group averaged 133 minutes of exercise per week.

The combo group exercised around twice as long and the participants showed mixed results; participants lost weight and melted away body fat, but they did not substantially lower their body mass or their fat mass compared to the aerobic-only group. However, the combo group did have the largest reduction in waist measurements. The researchers suggest that the shrinking waistline may be caused from the extra time spent working out.

The researchers did not investigate resting metabolic rate. Building muscle mass has been associated with an increase in the metabolic resting rate. The weight loss theory is that the person builds muscles and burns more calories when resting, which would help with weight loss. However, the researchers found that weight lifting did not notably lower the body fat or body weight.

The study’s lead author, Leslie H. Willis, MS, an exercise physiologist at Duke Medicine, said their study results suggest resistance training by itself might not increase metabolism enough to reduce body mass or fat.

Even though aerobic exercise burns fat better, the researchers suggest resistance training does offer other health benefits, especially for older adults who suffer with muscle atrophy. They recommend that healthy younger adults focus on aerobic workouts to lose weight.

By: Marsha Quinn
Health Reporter

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