If you want to lose weight, hitting the treadmill is likely a better bet than lifting the dumbbells.
That's the findings of a study conducted by researchers at Duke University Medical Center comparing the effects of aerobic exercise (running, swimming, walking, etc.) compared with the effects of resistance training (lifting weights), according to USA Today. According to the research, aerobic exercise significantly reduced visceral and liver fat, both major contributors to heart disease, diabetes, and other major forms of cancer. Resistance training did not provide those same benefits, the research found.
The study took 196 overweight, sedentary individuals between age 18 and 70, and put them on an aerobic program, resistance program or a combination of the two. The results were measured after eight months on the respective program, USA Today found.
If an individual wants to combine aerobic exercise with resistance training, the results in terms of weight loss would be similar to one who chose to do aerobic exercise exclusively, the researchers found. However, Fox News reports that those who did the aerobic exercise exclusively lost 2.5 square inches of body fat, which is nearly 50 percent more than those who did both programs and nearly 20 times more than those who chose to do weight resistance training exclusively.
Aerobic exercise also burned 67 percent more calories than resistance training, the research concluded.
The results likely will not be a surprise to the majority of health experts. While resistance training has been known to boost lean muscle mass and build strength, cardiovascular exercise is usually recommended for weight loss.
Resistance training is great for improving strength and increasing lean body mass, wrote the lead author of the study, physiologist Cris Slentz, in a release put out by Duke University. But if you are overweight, which two-thirds of the population is, and you want to lose belly fat, aerobic exercise is the better choice because it burns more calories.
Yet people should not discount resistance training either to remain healthy. According to research published in the July issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, building and maintaining muscle mass leads to lower levels of insulin resistance, which helps reduce the risk of diabetes.