Run now, pump iron later

Related articles

Yesterday we informed readers that although Olympic athletes tend to live longer than the general population, similar health benefits and longevity could be achieved by all of us through routine physical activity.

Now, results from a new study may tell you just what type of exercise you should be doing. This study suggests that aerobic exercises including running, walking, and swimming are better than resistance training for reducing fat mass and losing weight.

Published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, this study s findings contradict the idea that resistance training is a superior method for weight and fat loss by increasing muscle mass and thus speeding metabolism. Although researchers were quick to acknowledge that this does not mean resistance training is not useful, it s just not very good at burning fat.

The study involved 234 overweight and obese adults who did not have diabetes, and did not exercise regularly before the study. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three workouts: a resistance training workout (consisting of three days of weight lifting per week); an aerobic workout (running 12 miles a week); or a combination workout (three days of weight lifting plus 12 miles of running a week). The workout regimens lasted eight months.

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, study author Leslie Willis, clinical research coordinator at Duke University stated.

The combination group did, however, have the largest reduction in waist circumference, which is an independent risk factor for heart disease and other problems.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross was happy to hear this news: It has seemed as though pumping iron was the be-all of recent exercise-related weight loss news and recommendations. Since I love running but hate lifting weights, I m glad to feel like I ve actually been doing the right thing all this time.

And ACSH s research associate, Ariel Savransky, added: The important thing is really that people are engaging in any type of physical activity, especially if they are coming from a background of doing nothing at all. While this study may suggest added benefit from cardio-type activities, there is still value to be gained from resistance training as well, and it should not be discouraged.