Obese teen girls might benefit more from aerobic exercise than resistance training

Resistance training is touted as the Cadillac of exercises for the severely obese.

But a new study from the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh suggests that teen girls may benefit more from aerobic-based physical activity than more intense exercise methods like weight lifting or interval training.

The study

SoJung Lee and her colleagues compared the health effects of aerobic training and weight lifting on 44 obese adolescent girls over the course of three months. One group performed 60 minutes of aerobic exercise three days a week, a second performed 60 minutes of 10 whole-body resistance exercises using weight machines, and a third group didn't participate in any structured exercise program at all.

The researchers found that, while both exercise groups saw health benefits, the girls who had performed aerobic exercise – but not weight training – lost visceral and liver fat, while improving their insulin sensitivity. These results weren't seen in the other two groups.

Importance of findings

Visceral fat, or fat that gathers around the abdomen, is a risk factor for developing diabetes. The findings, researchers said, suggest that teen girls may benefit more from aerobic exercise to reduce health risks associated with obesity.

Girls in the aerobic activity group also claimed to enjoy their workouts more, which is opposite to the sentiments expressed by boys that the researchers studied in a previous trial.

"Therefore, given the superior improvements in metabolic health with aerobic exercise and the enjoyment factor, we propose that aerobic exercise may be a better mode of exercise for adolescent girls of this age group," the team wrote.

Source: American Physiological Society

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