While medical experts typically agree that a combined program of diet and exercise is the best way to fight obesity, opinions vary on which type of exercise training works best. A new clinical study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology - suggests that the type of exercise may be less important than previously thought.
A team of researchers from the Technical University of Madrid and La Paz University Hospital measured whether the type of exercise combined with diet made a significant difference in body weight and body composition. The team followed 96 obese people - 48 men and 48 women from age of 18 to 50 - through a 22-week supervised program. They were all prescribed a similar reduced-calorie diet that was measured to provide each person with 30 percent fewer calories than they had burned each day. They were also randomly assigned to one of three different exercise training programs or the American College of Sports Medicine recommendations for weekly physical activity.
Three Exercise Training Groups
- Endurance exercise only such as running, cycling or elliptical machine
- Strength exercises only such as squats, biceps curl, bench press, French press, shoulder press, barbell row, rowing machine and front split.
- A combination of strength and endurance exercises - cycling, rowing machines, treadmill or elliptical plus squats, bench press and front split.
All of the participants performed the exercises three times a week for the same length of time and at the same intensity. They were also advised to get 30 to 60 minutes of exercise on most days of the week for a total of 200 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity. They were also advised to walk instead of drive, take steps instead of an elevator and undergo other ways to increase daily activity.
The outcomes for all participants were positive despite the differences in the type of exercise performed. Positive outcomes were noticed in:
- Body weight
- Body Mass Index
- Waist circumference
- Total fat mass
- Significant increase in lean mass
To our knowledge, this is the first clinical trial designed to examine the effect of different physical activity interventions, in combination with a hypocaloric diet, on body weight and composition variables in obese people, the research team wrote. The present study shows that, when adhered to alongside a hypocaloric diet, different exercise training programs (endurance, strength, or their combination) or the following of physical activity recommendations are equally efficient in terms of improving body weight and body composition variables in obesity management. One calorie burned in exercise is not the same as one not ingested.