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Aerobic Exercise Better Than Weight Lifting to Burn Fat

Update Date: Dec 16, 2012 03:19 PM EST
Weight-lifting
Weight-lifting builds up white skeletal muscles, which might help people maintain their blood sugar levels, a new study reports. (Photo : Flickr)

Now that the festive season is here, everybody wants to look their best and shed off those unwanted extra pounds at the earliest. While crash dieting and similar options are always available, there is nothing more effective than moving your body to some good beats. A new research suggests that aerobic training is the best mode of exercise for burning fat.

The study by Duke researchers compared aerobic training, resistance training, and a combination of the two before concluding their study.

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Aerobic exercise, which includes walking, running, and swimming, is a better way to lose weight, while recent guidelines suggest that even resistance training like weight lifting may also prove helpful with weight loss by increasing a person's resting metabolic rate.

While research has shown benefits of resistance training for improving glucose control, its effectiveness for weight-loss and fat burning has been inconclusive.

"Given that approximately two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight due to excess body fat, we want to offer clear, evidence-based exercise recommendations that will truly help people lose weight and body fat," said Leslie H. Willis, MS, an exercise physiologist at Duke Medicine and the study's lead author.

For the study, the researchers recruited 234 overweight or obese adults and randomly assigned them to one of three exercise training groups: resistance training (three days per week of weight lifting, three sets per day, 8-12 repetitions per set), aerobic training (approximately 12 miles per week), or aerobic plus resistance training (three days a week, three set per day, 8-12 repetitions per set for resistance training, plus approximately 12 miles per week of aerobic exercise), according to Medical Xpress.

The researchers supervised the exercise sessions to make sure participants put in their best to exercising.

At the end of the exercise regimen, the researchers found that the groups which did aerobic training and aerobic plus resistance training lost more weight than those who did just resistance training.

The group that trained in resistance training group in fact gained weight due to an increase in lean body mass, the report said.

Aerobic training was found to be a more effective way of losing weight because the aerobic exercise group spent an average of 133 minutes per week training and lost weight, while the resistance training group spent approximately 180 minutes without even losing any weight.

The group which did both dedicated double the time and commitment when compared to any other group and provided a mixed result. The participants in this group apparently lost weight and fat mass, but did not significantly reduce body mass nor fat mass over aerobic training alone.

This group showed the maximum decrease in waist circumference, may be because of the time they spent exercising.

"No one type of exercise will be best for every health benefit," Willis added.

"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," said Cris A. Slentz, PhD, a Duke exercise physiologist and study co-author. "It's not that resistance training isn't good for you; it's just not very good at burning fat."

The study appears on Dec. 15, 2012, in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

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