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14-07-2011 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Aerobic better than resistance exercise for improving cardiometabolic health


Free abstract

MedWire News: Aerobic exercise training improves the metabolic syndrome and its component risk factors to a greater extent than resistance training, report US researchers.

"The effects of aerobic training on the cardiometabolic variables associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and premature mortality are well established," explain Lori Bateman (Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina) and team.

"However, little research has been done on the effects of resistance training on the metabolic syndrome and its risk factors," they add, suggesting that "the optimal mode of exercise or the combination thereof with respect to its effects on cardiometabolic risk is unclear."

To address this, the researchers compared changes in the metabolic syndrome induced by either resistance or aerobic exercise training, or a combination of both, in a group of non-diabetic, sedentary (exercising ≤2 times/week), and overweight or moderately obese (body mass index 25-35 kg/m2) adults, aged 18-70 years.

After a 4 month run-in period, where participants were asked to maintain their current sedentary lifestyle, individuals were randomly assigned to participate in one of three exercise training groups for 8 months.

The exercise programs were: resistance training (three sessions per week of three sets of 8-12 repetitions of eight different weight-lifting exercises; n=31); aerobic training (calorically equivalent to approximately 12 miles per week at 65-80% peak oxygen consumption; n=30); or a combination of both training programs (n=25). Participants were told to retain their usual diet during the study period.

The researchers calculated a continuous metabolic syndrome z-score for each individual based on the variables of the metabolic syndrome, defined by the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel (NCEP ATP)-III criteria.

As reported in the American Journal of Cardiology, resistance training did not significantly change the metabolic syndrome z-score, whereas aerobic training resulted in an improvement, and showed a trend towards significance compared with resistance training.

However, individuals who underwent both aerobic and resistance training showed a significant improvement in their metabolic syndrome score, indicating that this is an effective method to improve the metabolic syndrome, comments the team.

Of note, the group that combined both training programs exercised almost twice as much as those in the other groups. "Therefore, the study did not directly address whether the significant benefits accruing to those in the combined group resulted from the longer exercise duration or the additive or synergistic nature of the combined training stimuli," write Bateman et al.

They conclude: "When weighing the time commitment versus cardiometabolic health benefit, our data suggest that aerobic exercise is the most efficient mode of exercise for addressing the health issues associated with the metabolic syndrome."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Nikki Withers