Combined training may be most effective for weight loss in obese teens: study
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Combined training may be most effective for weight loss in obese teens: study

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Combining aerobic exercise with resistance training could prove to be the most effective answer to the growing problem of teenage obesity, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

The Healthy Eating Aerobic and Resistance Training in Youth (HEARTY) study was led by researchers at the University of Calgary and University of Ottawa. It saw participation from 304 overweight teens in the Ottawa and Gatineau area, who were between the ages of 14 and 18.

To explore the most effective form of exercise for weight loss, the participants were divided into four different groups, with all of the teens also being provided with four weeks of diet counselling to promote healthy eating and weight loss.

One group was asked to adhere to an aerobic only plan, one a resistance-only regime, another with both elements combined, while the final group was asked to take part in no exercise and just stick to the dieting guidance provided in the four-week counselling scheme.

The participants took to their plans while being supervised by personal trainers at community-based facilities, with training taking place four times per week for 22 weeks, while changes in body fat were measured using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

Despite all of the exercisers losing weight, it was found that those who combined resistance and aerobic exercise saw their body fat decrease significantly more than those who only did aerobic exercise.

"Remarkably, among participants who completed at least 70 per cent of the prescribed exercise sessions, waist circumference decreased by close to seven centimetres in those randomised to combined aerobic plus resistance exercise, versus about four centimetres in those randomised to do just one type of exercise, with no change in those randomised to diet alone,” said co-principal researcher Dr Glen Kenny of the University of Ottawa.

The research comes as a number of other findings continue to add weight to the idea that exercise can be both physically and mentally beneficial, with one recent study showing that activity could help influence the brain to prefer healthier food choices.

In the UK, the current obesity epidemic is growing increasingly problematic, with NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens suggesting that obesity is the new smoking, and several other health leaders championing exercise as the solution.

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Combining aerobic exercise with resistance training could prove to be the most effective answer to the growing problem of teenage obesity, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

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