Aerobic Exercise Better for Overweight Girls than Strength Work

In the ongoing battle against childhood obesity, new research suggests that aerobic exercise might be better than resistance training at cutting health risks for overweight girls.

Researchers at Pittsburgh’s Children’s Hospital recruited 44 obese girls ages 12 to 18 and assigned them to three groups. One group ran on a treadmill or used the elliptical machine for 60 minutes three days a week for three months. A second group lifted weights for each hour-long session, and the third group performed no exercise.

The results showed that while both types of exercise led to the loss of total body fat, only the girls who did aerobic exercise had significant reductions in visceral fat.

Visceral fat lies deep inside the body, around the inner organs, and differs from the fat layer found directly under the skin. While excessive amounts of both types of fat can have health consequences, it’s visceral fat that researchers believe greatly increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

In the study, the girls in the aerobic exercise group were also the only ones who improved their insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes that’s linked to obesity.

Anecdotally, the researchers noted that the girls who ran or used the elliptical appeared to enjoy exercise more than the girls in the weight-lifting group.

“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 researchers conclude.


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