By Cord Prettyman, MPT

A new report suggests that being overweight is not as harmful as believed and confers some surprising benefits. Research indicates being 5 to 10 pounds overweight protects people from ailments ranging from tuberculosis to Alzheimer’s. Those carrying 15 to 25 extra pounds are better able to recover from emphysema, pneumonia and various injuries and infections.

Thirty to forty pounds of flab could help fend off breast, kidney, pancreatic, prostate and colon cancer. And an extra 50 pounds may reverse baldness, cure the common cold and reduce global warming. The report concludes overweight people are happier, more successful and smarter. The study was funded by a research grant from McDonald’s and Krispy Kreme. I’m just kidding of course.

For those of you who are struggling with those extra 10 pounds and those on a life-long journey to shed some pounds, weight loss is no laughing matter. There is some definitive good news from researchers at Duke University Medical Center, who published a study contending aerobic exercise beats weight training for weight and fat loss.

Previous studies have suggested that strength training may be a better approach to losing weight because it increases the body’s resting metabolic rate. However, the effect of resistance training on fat mass is murky motivating the Duke Research team to seek definitive evidence on what was the best way for people to lose both body weight and burn fat.

“Given that approximately two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight due to excess body fat, we wanted to offer clear, evidence-based exercise recommendations that will truly help people lose weight and body fat,” said Leslie H. Willis, MS, a Duke exercise physiologist and the study’s lead author. To that end, the researchers enrolled 234 overweight and obese diabetes-free subjects aged 10 to 70 in the study.

Participants were randomly assigned to one of three exercise training groups. The resistance training group did only weight-lifting exercises three days a week for an average of 180 minutes a week. The aerobics group walked 12 miles per week averaging a weekly time investment of 133 minutes. And the aerobic and resistance training group participated in both strength training and aerobics.

At the end of the eight-month trial, results were measured in body composition, weight and waist circumference. The aerobic-only group showed the greatest reduction in both weight loss and fat mass, while the resistance-only group gained weight, which researchers attributed to an increase in muscle mass. The combo-group, while recording the largest decrease in waist size, did not lose more weight or body fat that the aerobics-only group despite spending twice as much time exercising.

“Balancing time commitments against health benefits, our study suggests that aerobic exercise is the best option for reducing fat mass and body mass,” said Cris A. Slentz, the study’s co-author. “It’s not that resistance training isn’t good for you; it’s just not very good at burning fat.”

Before you trade your weight-lifting gloves in for walking shoes, you might want to hear what the CDC says about resistance training. “There are numerous benefits to strength training that can help reduce the signs and symptoms of numerous diseases and chronic conditions, among them arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, back pain, depression, balance and reduction in falls.”

Perhaps an exercise regime of aerobics and resistance training incorporates the best of both worlds for weight/fat loss and increased strength. If you’re time challenged, you may want to focus on cardio. According to the Mayo Clinic, running, swimming laps, water aerobics and hiking top the list as calorie burners. However, the best aerobic exercise for weigh and fat loss is the one you will actually do.


Cord Prettyman is an IDEA Master Personal Trainer with 32-years of personal training experience, who works at the Montana Athletic Club in Bigfork, Montana. He can be reached at the club at 406-837-2582 or directly at 719-761-8592. Email: Website: