Watch CBSN Live

Aerobic exercise beats weights in belly fat face-off


(CBS) Want to burn belly fat? Maybe ditch the weights and lace up those running shoes.

Pictures: 10 easy ways to burn calories this summer

A new study showed aerobic exercise burns nearly 70 percent more calories than resistance weight training.

"Resistance training is great for improving strength and increasing lean body mass," study author Dr. Cris Slentz, an exercise physiologist at Duke University, said in a written statement. "But if you are overweight, which two thirds of the population is, and you want to lose belly fat, aerobic exercise is the better choice because it burns more calories,"

For the eight-month study - published in the August 25 issue of the American Journal of Physiology -196 overweight and sedentary adults, ages 18 to 70, did aerobic training, resistance training, or a combination of the two. Study participants weren't allowed to slack - aerobic exercisers had to jog 12 miles per week at 80 percent of their maximum heart rate, and resistance trainers had to lift weights for 8-12 reps, three times a week.

What happened? By study's end, the joggers had improved insulin resistance and levels of liver enzymes and triglycerides, which are tied to a lower risk for diabetes and heart disease. They also sported less belly fat.

Belly fat doesn't just look bad. Also known as visceral fat, belly fat fills the spaces between organs, and too much of it is associated with heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

"When it comes to increased health risks, where fat is deposited in the body is more important than how much fat you have," Slentz said.

Don't feel up to running 12 miles a week?

Slentz said what really counts is whatever it takes to lose calories, adding, "If you choose to work at a lower aerobic intensity, it will simply take longer to burn the same amount of unhealthy fat."

WebMD has more on aerobic fitness.

View CBS News In