Also known as cardio is physical exercise of low to high intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process. Aerobic exercise is better than resistance training if you want to lose the belly fat that poses a serious threat to your health, researchers say.
How your body responds to aerobic exercise
- During aerobic activity, you repeatedly move large muscles in your arms, legs and hips. You’ll notice your body’s responses quickly.
- You’ll breathe faster and more deeply. This maximises the amount of oxygen in your blood. Your heart will beat faster, which increases blood flow to your muscles and back to your lungs.
- Your small blood vessels (capillaries) will widen to deliver more oxygen to your muscles and carry away waste products, such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid.
- Your body will even release endorphins, natural painkillers that promote an increased sense of well-being.
That’s the finding of their eight-month study that compared the effectiveness of aerobic exercise (such as jogging), resistance training (such as weight lifting), or a combination of the two activities in 196 overweight, sedentary adults aged 18 to 70.
The participants in the aerobic group did the equivalent of 12 miles of jogging per week at 80 percent maximum heart rate, while those in the resistance group did three sets of eight to 12 repetitions three times per week.
The Duke University Medical Center researchers looked at how these types of exercise reduced the fat that’s deep within the abdomen and fills the spaces between internal organs. This type of fat called visceral and liver fat is associated with increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer.
Aerobic exercise significantly reduced visceral and liver fat and improved risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, such as insulin resistance, liver enzymes and triglyceride levels. Resistance training didn’t deliver these benefits. Aerobic exercise plus resistance training achieved results similar to aerobic exercise alone, the investigators found.
“Resistance training is great for improving strength and increasing lean body mass,” lead author and exercise physiologist Cris Slentz said in a Duke news release. “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.”
Aerobic exercise burned 67 percent more calories than resistance training, the researchers found. The study was published in the Aug. 25 issue of the American Journal of Physiology.