Teens Lost Most Weight With Combination Training

Aerobic exercise combined with resistance training reduced body fat and waist size more than either method alone

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Exercise is an important tool in fighting obesity in young people. But which type of exercise is the most effective?

In a new study, Canadian researchers studied how effective different types of exercise were at reducing body fat and waist circumference.

They found that a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training was better for managing weight in adolescents than just choosing one type.

"Talk to a pediatrician about how to manage your child's weight."

Ronald J. Sigal, MD, MPH, and colleagues studied 304 inactive youths between 14 and 18 years old. The teens had a body mass index (BMI) higher than 95 percent of other kids their age.

BMI is a height- and weight-based measure of body fat. For this study, Dr. Sigal and team used BMI standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study authors measured how BMI changed with aerobic exercises (which include running, swimming, biking and other "cardio" exercises) and resistance training, such as lifting weights to build muscle.

“Aerobic training, resistance training, and their combination decreased percentage body fat in obese adolescents,” the authors wrote.

However, they found that combined training was better than aerobic exercise alone in terms of decreasing body fat and waist circumference.

After a four-week “run-in” period, where the teens followed the same exercise routine, they were divided into four groups for 22 weeks of monitored exercise.

Of the initial 304 teens, 75 did aerobic training, 78 did resistance training, 75 did combined training and the other 76 didn’t exercise.

The non-exercising group lost 0.3 percent of their body fat — compared to 1.1 percent in the aerobic training group, 1.6 percent in the resistance training group and 1.4 percent in the combined group.

The non-exercising group lost 0.07 inches of waist size — compared to 1.18 inches in the aerobic group, 0.87 inches in the resistance group and 1.61 inches in the combined group.

The authors said that obese teens who stick to their exercise routines may reduce their BMI and waist size the most overall with a combined training plan.

The study was published online Sept. 22 in JAMA Pediatrics.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research funded the study. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
September 22, 2014
Last Updated:
September 22, 2014