Searching for the best way to lose weight? Should the emphasis be on diet or can the solution be found at the gym?  Well, the answer lies somewhere in between with both healthy eating and getting more active having health benefits independent of any weight loss.

Exercise, however, can have a modest but consistent benefit on body fat reduction. For people who are already overweight even 60 minutes of physical activity each day may not be enough to halt weight gain.

Researchers looked at whether there are better types of activity a person can be doing to lose weight. Researchers from the Technical University of Madrid designed a weight loss trial that combined calorie restriction with different forms of exercise.

The four exercise groups included strength training, endurance training, a combination of strength and endurance training and a control group who were asked to follow Government recommendations around weekly activity goals.

Ninety-six people who were considered obese took part in the 22 week study with each person randomly allocated to one of the four exercise groups which they undertook three times per week for around 50 minutes for each session.

The exception was the control group who were asked to work towards the broad activity goal of between 200 and 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week.

The positive outcome was that all four exercise groups showed a significant average reduction in body weight and an increase in muscle mass.

The average amount of weight lost between the four groups was 8.7 to 10.6 kilograms. There were similar favourable changes in body composition (a decrease in fat mass and an increase in muscle mass) seen between the four groups as well.

The key finding of practical relevance from the study was the high degree of compliance people showed to their exercise and diet goals.

All groups achieved a similar weekly total of exercise intensity in the face of eating about a third less. Previous research has confirmed that a combination of dietary changes and exercise is the most effective behavioural change for achieving weight loss.

Implications

What is the best type of exercise to do to lose weight?

The answer is the type of exercise you like doing and can do regularly.  Running, cycling, brisk walking, elliptical walking machines, stair climbers, weights circuit classes and so the list goes on are all valid forms of exercise that improve weight management.

All forms of physical activity can be of benefit when combined with a sensible eating plan.

Last Reviewed: 30/09/2019

Norman Swan Medical Communications



References

Benito PJ et al. Change in weight and body composition in obese subjects following a hypocaloric diet plus different training programs or physical activity recommendations. Journal of Applied Physiology 2015;118:1006-1013.