Which Type of Exercise is Best?

ExerciseMedical experts widely recommend a reduced calorie diet along with exercise as a first line of defense against obesity. But opinions vary greatly between which type of exercise is best for achieving weight reduction (strength training, endurance, or a combination of both). A new study suggests that the type of exercise you choose may be less important than previously thought.

Researchers from the Technical University of Madrid and La Paz University Hospital studied whether the type of exercise, combined with a diet that was 30% lower than each participants’ energy expenditure, would have a significant difference in weight and body composition.

Study participants were divided into 3 specific exercise groups: endurance exercise (running, elliptical, or cycling); strength training (shoulder press, squats, barbell row, biceps curl, lateral split, front split, bench press and French press); or a combination of endurance and strength training (choice of cycling, treadmill or elliptical plus squats, rowing machine, bench press and front split). All subjects performed their exercise programs three times a week for the same length of time and at the same intensity.

A separate group only followed the American College of Sports Medicine’s physical activity guidelines to get 30-60 minutes of exercise on most or all days of the week for a total of 200-300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity. This group was also encouraged to walk instead of drive, take the steps instead of the elevator, and encouraged to abide by other lifestyle interventions to increase daily activity.

Participants across all 4 study groups saw significant reductions in body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, total fat mass, and a significant increase in lean muscle mass. The study concluded that along with a reduced calorie diet, different types of exercise were all equally efficient at improving body weight and body composition.

The best type of exercise is the one you do consistently alongside a reduced calorie diet. Dr. Shillingford, a South Florida obesity surgeon specializing in sleeve gastrectomies, lap band, and gastric bypasses, encourages his surgical weight loss patients to choose an activity that they enjoy and is appropriate for their abilities.