Short on Time? Hit the Elliptical, Not the Weight Rack
If losing weight is on your list of new year’s resolutions, research shows you’ll drop the most weight in the least amount of time by following a workout routine that incorporates both cardio and strength training. But on the days that looming work deadlines or your kid’s choir concert leave little time for a sweat session, a new Duke University Medical Center study shows you’re better off squeezing in a Spin class than the pumping iron at the weight rack.
In the study, 119 overweight adults were assigned one of three eight-month workout plans: cardio only, resistance training only, or a combination of the two. Unsurprisingly, the combo group achieved the best results—they saw decreases in waist circumference and fat mass and increases in muscle weight. The finding that did surprise researchers? People who only did resistance training lost hardly any weight at all, and in fact, many participants gained weight. Meanwhile, the aerobic-only group lost a significant amount of fat.
Leslie H. Willis, an exercise physiologist at Duke University Medical Center and the study's lead author, said in a statement that it may be time to rethink the conventional wisdom that strength training alone can help people lose weight. “The majority of Americans could experience health benefits due to weight and fat loss,” she said. “The best option in that case, given limited time for exercise, is to focus on aerobic training.”
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