There are only so many minutes in the day to exercise, which probably has you wondering which type will give you the most bang for your buck. If your goal is weight loss, resistance training may be your best bet according to a study published in Obesity. The study included 249 adults, ages 62 to 71, who were overweight or obese. For the 18-month study, researchers put all the participants on a restricted-calorie weight loss dietary program and divided them into three groups: an aerobic training group that walked four days a week, progressing to a goal of 45 minutes of moderately vigorous walking per session; a resistance training group that completed three sets of 10 to 12 reps on eight strength-building machines four days a week, progressing to a goal of 45 minutes of high-intensity resistance training per session; and, a diet-only group that didn’t participate in an exercise program. At the beginning, middle, and end of the study, researchers measured the participants’ fitness, strength, and body composition, and found:
The aerobic and resistance training groups lost approximately 15 and 17 pounds, respectively, which was significantly more than the diet-only group, which lost roughly 11 pounds.
The aerobic training group lost approximately 4 pounds of muscle mass, which was significantly more that the resistance training and diet-only groups, which lost about 2 pounds of muscle each.
While loss of fat mass was associated with improvement in fitness, loss of muscle mass was correlated with reduction in strength.
So, what’s the verdict? Resistance training may help aging adults achieve the same weight loss as aerobic training, with the additional benefit of maintaining muscle mass and strength. The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults do both resistance and aerobic training; specifically, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, as well as two or more sessions of resistance training per week.