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Strength training can be just as effective as cardio at burning fat, study finds

Experts say aerobic exercise isn’t the only way to get lean

Photo (c) Mike Harrington - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from the University of New South Wales explored some of the benefits consumers can gain from incorporating strength training into their exercise routines. Contrary to popular belief, they say activities like lifting weights can be a great way to burn fat. 

“A lot of people think that if you want to lose weight, you need to get out and run,” said researcher Dr. Mandy Hagstrom. “But our findings show that even when strength training is done on its own, it still causes favorable loss of body fat without having to consciously diet or go running.” 

The benefits of staying active

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from nearly 60 earlier studies that included information from 3,000 participants. While each study was different, all of the participants worked on strength training about three times per week for as long as an hour per day. The researchers measured their body fat over the course of five months to see how this kind of exercise affected them.

Ultimately, the study showed that regular strength training helped reduce the participants’ body fat by 1.4%. The researchers explained that consumers don’t always get the most accurate reading of body fat when they weigh themselves.

“Resistance training does so many fantastic things to the body that other forms of exercise don’t, like improving bone mineral density, lean mass, and muscle quality,” said Dr. Hagstrom. “Now, we know it also gives you a benefit we previously thought only came from aerobics. 

“If you’re strength training and want to change how your body looks, then you don’t want to focus on the number on the scale too much, because it won’t show all your results,” she continued. “Instead, think about your whole body composition, like how your clothes fit and how your body will start to feel, and move, differently.” 

The study highlights that there isn’t just one way to exercise to lose body fat. As long as consumers stay active and eat healthily, they’re likely to reap the benefits of those habits. 

“If you want to exercise to change your body composition, you’ve got options,” Dr. Hagstrom said. “Do what exercise you want to do and what you’re most likely to stick to.” 

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