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Aerobic exercise trumps resistance training for getting rid of dangerous belly fat

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

For losing dangerous belly fat, jogging, swimming, cycling and other aerobic activities tops resistance training say, investigators.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, aerobic exercise is “any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature."

Researchers from Duke University Medical Center did a comparison of how effective resistance training, aerobics or a combination of the two are for getting rid of dangerous deep visceral fat and not just the kind that causes “muffin top”.

Head to head comparison shows aerobic exercise best for visceral fat

The researchers specifically wanted to see what the best exercise is for getting rid of unhealthy fat – also known as visceral adiposity - that can lead to fatty liver disease, high triglyceride levels and insulin resistance and ultimately heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

When the researchers compared aerobic exercise to resistance training they found no change in liver fat, insulin resistance or visceral fat.

Duke exercise physiologist Cris Slentz, Ph.D., lead author of the study published in the American Journal of Physiology said:

"Resistance training is great for improving strength and increasing lean body mass," says Slentz. "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."

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In the study aerobic exercise burned 67 percent more calories compared to resistance training.

Aerobic exercise combined with resistance training produced the same results as just aerobics.

In the 8 month study, aerobic exercise consisted of the equivalent of jogging 12 miles a week at 80 percent maximum heart rate for age.

The authors suspect the same results could be seen with less intense aerobic exercise however.

Resistance training included performing three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions three times a week.

Slentz says, "What really counts is how much exercise you do, how many miles you walk and how many calories you burn," he says. "If you choose to work at a lower aerobic intensity, it will simply take longer to burn the same amount of unhealthy fat."

Given high rates of obesity, understanding how to curb disease risk by getting rid of dangerous visceral belly fat is important. In the study, aerobic exercise, even at lower intensities can help burn unhealthy fat.

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