Aerobic Exercise Beats Weight Training in Disease Prevention
Aerobic exercise improves blood sugar control and prevents heart disease and diabetes
Replacing fat with muscle may be good for your figure, but do the benefits of weight training measure up to those of aerobic exercise? Not according to a new study published in the American Journal of Cardiology. The study found that engaging in an aerobic exercise program improved risk factors for heart disease and diabetes in people with a combination of conditions known as metabolic syndrome, while engaging in a weight training program had no effect.
Exercise away metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is the name given to a set of conditions that often occur together and that, as a group, are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. In this study, all of the 196 participants had evidence of metabolic syndrome and were given calculated scores based on their HDL ("good") cholesterol, triglyceride, and fasting blood sugar levels, as well as waist circumference and blood pressure.
After a four-month prelude, during which participants were instructed not to exercise, they were divided into three groups: an aerobic exercise group, a weight-training group, and a combined weight-training plus aerobic exercise group. Aerobic exercisers did the equivalent of walking or jogging approximately 12 miles per week at a moderate pace, and weight trainers did three sessions per week of weight lifting exercises that involved the upper and lower body, for eight months.
Aerobic exercise has more benefits
The results were as follows:
"When weighing the time commitment versus health benefit, the data suggest that aerobic training alone was the most efficient mode of exercise for addressing the health issues associated with metabolic syndrome," the study's authors said.
Another reminder to exercise, eat well, and lose weight
Metabolic syndrome is becoming more and more common in the US and the rest of the developed world. Obesity, especially abdominal obesity, and insulin resistance (when insulin no longer works efficiently to control blood sugar levels) are the most important components of metabolic syndrome. Scientists are still working out the causes, but prevention and treatment strategies are well established:
(Am J Cardiol 2011; online publication)
Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice on Cortes Island in British Columbia, Canada, and has done extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.