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NO.464 01.14.2019

No Difference Found Between Aerobic Exercise and Combined Exercise in Managing Obesity in Adolescents

Combined exercise (aerobic and resistance strength work outs) has long been the standard approach for preventing or treating obesity in children and adolescents


However, Professor SoJung Lee at the Graduate School of Physical Education has discovered that no discernible difference in effectiveness can be found between aerobic exercise and combined exercise for combating obesity in children and adolescents. Professor Lee’s research findings were published in the December 13, 2018, edition of The Journal of Pediatrics as a featured article under the title, “The Effects of Exercise Modality on Insulin Resistance and Ectopic Fat in Adolescents with Overweight and Obesity: A Randomized Clinical Trial.”


Research results published as a featured article in a world-class journal.
Professor Lee conducted the research project at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. The study surveyed 118 overweight and obese adolescents, aged 12 through 17, who had not been participating in regular physical activity. They were divided into three exercise groups―Aerobic, Resistance, and Combined―and they all worked out three days a week (60 minutes per day, 180 minutes per week) for six months.


the exercise program was concluded, the results were analyzed, showing that the participants had lost an average

of two percent in body fat across the board. No difference was found among the three groups. Insulin sensitivity had increased among the participants of all three groups, but the rate of this increase was higher for the Aerobic Exercise group members than it was for the Resistance Exercise group. On the other hand, the insulin sensitivity increase rate was identical between the Aerobic and Combined Exercise groups.


The incidence of fatty liver dropped in both the Aerobic and Combined Exercise groups but not in the Resistance Exercise group. The amount of intermuscular fat dropped at the same rate for all three exercise groups.


Results overturn previous research conclusions that claimed combined exercise was good for managing obesity.

Consequently, the group engaged in aerobics only and the group performing combined exercises showed similar levels of insulin sensitivity increase and ectopic fat reduction when the exercise is conducted for the same duration per session and frequency per week over the same period of months. This result demonstrates that there is no discernible difference between aerobics and combined exercises in controlling obesity in children and adolescents. The present study disproves previous findings that claimed combined exercise to be the most effective way to prevent child and adolescent obesity.


Professor SoJung Lee plans to use the present study as a basis for a joint project in Korea with obesity researchers. She said, “I want to study systematically various forms of exercise-based lifestyle intervention to determine which ones are most effective in preventing obesity and diabetes in Korean adolescents and adults. I will also research the difference between the obesity markers between Korean patients and the obesity patients of other racial backgrounds.”

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