Lace up those jogging shoes and hit the track. A recent study in the Aug. 25 issue of American Journal of Physiology, conducted by Duke medical researchers, suggests that aerobic exercise is better than resistance training for those interested in losing belly fat.
The eight-month study compared the effectiveness of aerobic exercises like jogging to resistance training such as weight lifting and a combination of both in 196 overweight, sedentary adults ages 18 -70.
Participants in the aerobic group performed exercises equivalent to 12 miles of jogging per week at an 80 percent maximum heart rate, while those in the resistance group performed three sets of eight to 12 repetitions three times per week.
Researchers studied how these types of exercises reduced visceral and liver fat that is found deep within the abdominal tissue and can fill spaces between internal organs. This is not to be confused with subcutaneous fat, which is fat that is stored beneath the skin.
Melanee Wood, a UH recreation fitness assistant director, said this type of fat is associated with increased heart disease, diabetes and different types of cancer.
Researchers found that weight lifting did not measure up to its competition after the study was complete. Resistance training achieved no significant reductions in visceral fat, liver fat, live enzyme levels or in insulin resistance, but they found that aerobics did quite the opposite than resistance training.
The Duke study showed that aerobic training significantly reduced visceral fat and liver fat, which is linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
It also helped improve insulin resistance and it reduced liver enzymes and fasting triglyceride levels, which are all risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.
In fact, aerobic exercise burned 67 percent more calories than resistance training.
Don’t make the mistake in thinking resistance training is not good for you, because “any kind of exercise is better than no exercise,” Wood said in an email.
“It is important to note that resistance training also results in fat loss. This study is not saying that aerobic activity is the only method of fat loss. There is a lot of recent research that suggests that metabolic or interval training is also highly effective for fat loss,” Wood said.
“This type of training is not recommended for sedentary people who are just beginning to exercise but can be a great way to progress for a new exerciser who enjoys weight training.”
The fitness director believes that both methods of exercise are effective ways of losing weight, but only when used appropriately.
However you choose to exercise, Wood wants to jog your memory and remind you to always have fun.
“The most important thing for new exercisers is finding activity that they enjoy doing,” she said. “If you keep exercise fun, it’ll be easier to stick with it and you’ll see greater improvements in your health in the long-term.”
Readers interested in starting an aerobic conditioning program can try the recreation center’s cardio-based group fitness classes such as Group Cycling, Kickboxing, Step, Hip Hop Hustle or Zumba. Weight training, interval training and circuit training classes are also available.
The full group fitness schedule and class descriptions can be found at www.uh.edu/recreation/fitness/group-exercise. All classes are free for UH students.