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Some Exercises More Effective for Obese Teens

Update Date: Sep 22, 2014 06:58 PM EDT

Certain exercises are more effective in helping overweight teens lose weight, according to a new study.

After observing 304 overweight Canadian teens living in the Ottawa/Gatineau area who were given diet counseling to boost healthy eating and weight loss before being randomly placed into four groups.

One group p performed resistance training with machine and free weights, the second group performed only aerobic exercise on treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bikes, the third group performed a combined aerobic and resistance training, and the fourth group did no exercise training.

"Obesity is an epidemic among youth," researcher Dr. Ron Sigal of the University of Calgary's Institute for Public Health and Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, said in a news release. "Adolescents who are overweight are typically advised to exercise more, but there is limited evidence on what type of exercise is best in order to lose fat."

While all three exercise programs lead to significantly more fat loss than in the diet-only control group, the study revealed that the percentage of body fat decreased "significantly more in those who did combined aerobic and resistance exercise than in those who only did aerobic exercise," co-principal researcher Dr. Glen Kenny of the University of Ottawa said in a university release. "Remarkably, among participants who completed at least 70 per cent of the prescribed exercise sessions, waist circumference decreased close to seven centimeters in those randomized to combined aerobic plus resistance exercise, versus about four centimeters in those randomized to do just one type of exercise, with no change in those randomized to diet alone."

Researchers noted that resistance training is viewed as more attractive because it is less challenging than aerobic exercises like cycling or jogging.  Therefore, the benefits of resistance training will show significantly more quickly than benefits in aerobic fitness.

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMAPediatrics.

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