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Weight lifting may be beneficial for those struggling with obesity, study finds

Aerobic exercise isn’t the only way for consumers to lose weight

Woman lifting weights
Photo (c) Westend61 - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from Edith Cowan University explored how lifting weights may benefit consumers with obesity who are trying to lose weight. 

One premise of the research is that aerobic exercise may not be possible for everyone. For consumers who are unable to run, jog, or perform other aerobic activities, the researchers say resistance training can be an effective way to become healthier and reach weight loss goals.

“Usually when we talk about obesity, body composition, or weight loss, we only hear about aerobic exercise,” said researcher Pedro Lopez. “This paper shows we can use resistance training and achieve meaningful effects with a diet based on caloric reduction. We can reduce body fat percentage, whole-fat body mass, body weight, and BMI. If you’re comparing the literature, these effects are similar to aerobic exercise with caloric restriction in adults who are overweight or obese.” 

Resistance training has health benefits

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from over 4,100 participants who were part of nearly 120 studies through December 2020. The different studies looked at the ways aerobic exercise, resistance training, and diet all affected health outcomes for those with obesity. 

Ultimately, the researchers learned that weight lifting was effective for those with obesity who were trying to lose weight. Participants had the greatest weight loss outcomes when they were able to cut back on their calories and follow a resistance training program. The team also observed the greatest improvements in body fat percentage and whole body fat mass for these participants. 

When the participants combined both aerobic exercise and resistance training, they were also more likely to have better weight loss outcomes. For those who aren’t able to perform aerobic exercises, or would prefer to have options when it comes to their physical activity, these findings show that resistance training can be a successful option. 

The researchers also learned that following a resistance training routine helped the participants improve their lean muscle mass, which can be difficult – especially when cutting back on calorie intake. The team explained that diet is an incredibly important piece of the weight loss process. 

“If you want to lose weight, you have to reduce your calorie intake,” Lopez said. 

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