Which is more important? Aerobics or weights? Which type of fitness activity might do more to help you maintain a healthy body weight? An important new study in Obesity this month confirms that this is a false choice. Aerobics, weights, and weight go together. The combination of both aerobic and strengthening exercise helps more with maintaining a healthy weight than either alone can do.
Jason Bennie et al studied physical activity patterns for 1.7 million U.S. adults. They examined whether they met guidelines for aerobic or strengthening exercise. By meeting either of these guidelines, subjects were 30 percent less likely to have obesity. But meeting guidelines for both meant that the odds were 50 percent less.
These data came from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). So these are self-reports and we need to take them with a grain of salt. It’s also worth noting that that this study provides correlations – not evidence for cause and effect.
Nonetheless the message is clear enough. There’s plenty of corroborating evidence on this subject. We would be wise to consider the importance of both strength and aerobics in our physical activity. In a commentary alongside this study, Tim Church notes how impressive this work is:
This is by far the largest study to ever examine the combination of aerobic and strength training, and it provides further evidence for the value of combining the 2 exercise modalities. Of note, BMI does not differentiate fat mass from lean muscle mass, and strength training promotes muscle mass, which creates the opportunity for misclassification; yet the weight training was still found to be associated with a lower risk of obesity as defined by BMI.
Thus the study is getting well-deserved attention. In the New York Times, Gretchen Reynolds offers appropriate caution about the complexity of this subject. Even so, she makes it clear enough. Aerobics, weights, and weight have a relationship to good health that deserves your attention.
Click here for the study, here for the commentary, and here for more from the New York Times.
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