Aerobic exercise reduces fat mass, body mass in individuals who are obese

Aerobic training appears to be the optimal mode of exercise for reducing fat mass and body mass, according to a recently published study in the Journal of Applied Physiology. Aerobic training plus resistance training is needed to increase lean mass in middle-aged, overweight or obese individuals.

The study was the largest randomized trial to compare changes in body composition in overweight or obese adults without diabetes using aerobic training, resistance training or a combination of the two.

Researchers randomly assigned 119 sedentary, overweight or obese adults to one of three 8-month exercise protocols: resistance training (RT); aerobic training (AT); or aerobic and resistance training (AT/RT). Total body mass, fat mass and lean body mass were included as primary outcomes.

Overall, study results showed that the AT and AT/RT groups reduced total body mass and fat mass more than RT alone. Researchers found that RT and AT/RT increased lean body mass more than AT. Although the program of combined AT and RT required double the time commitment, it did not result in significantly more fat mass or body mass reduction compared with AT alone.

“No one type of exercise will be best for every health benefit,” Leslie H. Willis, MS, an exercise physiologist at Duke Medicine, stated in a press release. However, it might be time to reconsider the conventional wisdom that resistance training alone can induce changes in body mass or fat mass due to an increase in metabolism, as our study found no change.”

“Balancing time commitments against health benefits, our study suggests that aerobic exercise is the best option for reducing fat mass and body mass,” Chris A. Slentz, PhD, a Duke exercise physiologist and study co-author, stated in the release. “It’s not that resistance training isn’t good for you; it’s just not very good at burning fat.”

Disclosure: Slentz and Willis have no relevant financial disclosures.

For more information:

Willis LH. J Appl Physiol. 2012;doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01370.2011.

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