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Aerobic Exercise vs Resistance Training

Posted Jan 17 2013 3:00am
How many times have you read an article and had one of those "I coulda had a V8" moments?  Duh, right?  With that said, we try not to make assumptions in science & medicine.  We want proof.  And not just that observational stuff.  We look for the randomized controlled trial data that removes any chance of coincidence from the picture.  So while the average Joe on the street might be willing to overlook the fact that epidemiologic data is only useful in developing hypotheses, I strive to bring you data demonstrates causation.  Of course, this comes at the risk of those V8 moments because most have already jumped to that conclusion.

Take for instance, what we generally assume to be true when it comes to comparing aerobic exercise to resistance (weight) training.  Without being able to document any proof, we accept as (unproven) fact that aerobic exercise is good for fat loss while resistance exercise is good for making muscle.  Luckily for you, in a prospective randomized trial published last month in the Journal of Applied Physiology , the authors came to just that conclusion.

The authors randomized 119 sedentary adults, either overweight or obese, to one of 3 protocols over the course of 8 months: aerobic exercise only, resistance training only, or both aerobic exercise + resistance training.  On average, the participants were 50yo w/body mass index 30kg/m2, the majority of whom were female.

While those who participated in both types of exercise lost fat & gained muscle comparable to those who did one activity or the other, most people do not have that time (commitment).  So before recommending any exercise, make sure you understand your patient's goals.
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