Aerobic exercise beats out resistance training if you want to lose belly fat, which can be a serious health threat, researchers have found.
Researchers from Duke University Medical Center conducted an eight-month study comparing the effectiveness of aerobic exercise, resistance training, or a combination of the two in about 196 adults. The adults were between 18 and 70 years, and were said to be overweight and lived a sedentary lifestyle.
An example of an aerobic exercise is jogging, while strength training would classify as resistance training.
Those who participated in the aerobics group performed the equivalent of jogging 12 miles per week at 80 percent maximum heart rate. The resistance training participants performed eight weight-lifting exercises, doing three sets of eight to 12 repetitions, three times a week. The combination group did both of exercise regimens in full.
Researchers at Duke closely monitored how these different exercises reduced belly fat.
Belly fat, which is also known as abdominal fat, intra-abdominal fat or visceral fat, can be found is located inside the abdominal cavity, packed in between the stomach, liver, intestines and other organs.
Belly fat is different from the fat that is located under the skin and intramuscular fat, which is spread out in skeletal muscles, according to Medical News Today.
Health professionals have said belly fat is associated with increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancers.
And throughout the study, researchers found that those who did aerobics for eight months lost about 2.5 square inches of belly fat, as measured on a CT scan. That amount is about 1.5 times as much as people who did a combination of aerobic exercise and weight lifting. Furthermore, it is also about 20 times as much as those who only did weight lifting.
Researchers concluded that aerobic exercise also burned 67 percent more calories than resistance training.
The results are published in the Aug. 25 issue of the American Journal of Psychology.
Resistance training is great for improving strength and increasing lean body mass, lead author and exercise physiologist Cris Slentz said in a Duke news release. 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.