While many of us do a good job in getting our aerobic exercise in, we fall well short when it comes to weight training. Aerobics is excellent for the heart and a darn good calorie burner, but leaving off weight training is missing out on getting the best results.
Dr. Micah J. Eimer wrote Are You Running Away From Weight Loss. In it, he noted that a recent Journal of the American Medical Association paper studied people who did both aerobic and resistance training and lost twice as much weight (emphasis mine) as those who did aerobics alone. While he says that fitness pros have been aware of this for years, this was the first study in medical literature that validated the concept.
The Washington Post reported, “It’s clear that doing both aerobic and strength training is superior to either alone,” said lead author Tim Church of Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. “It’s almost like taking two different drugs.” Patients in the study achieved the results over nine months, exercising three days a week for about 45 minutes each session.
“People can manage this amount of exercise,” said Laurie Goodyear of Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, who wasn’t involved in the new study but does similar research. “They didn’t have to go on a diet. This was purely an exercise effect.”
Dr. Eimer explained that most people assume that they burn more calories in the gym than anywhere else. However, more calories are burned during the rest of the day. Remember, most bodies on average burn around 2000 calories a day on basic bodily functions. This is the BMR – basic metabolic rate in which the body does breathing, digesting, generating heat and generally making the body work.
The reason for adding resistance exercises to your workout is that they build muscle and increase your BMR which increases the calories you burn in the full 24 hour day. Muscles burn much more calories than fat. Dr. Eimer noted that depending on the study, estimates range from three to 10 times as many calories per hour for muscles vs fat.
As a numbers guy who used to work in finance, I loved his analogy comparing aerobic and resistance exercise as simple and compound interest.
“One analogy I like to use is the difference between simple and compound interest in a savings account. Aerobic exercise is like simple interest in that you get most of the benefit once, i.e., while you are doing the exercise. Resistance exercise, on the other hand, is like compound interest in that it not only burns calories while you do it, but as you build muscle everything else that you do (including aerobic exercise) burns more calories due to the increased metabolic rate.”
He concludes with the idea that a sensible diet is the first step. He suggests a good goal for exercise would be 30 minutes five days a week with two of those days allotted for building muscle.