When it comes to reaping the
, studies confirm the age-old adage that quality, not quantity, is the key.
And by quality, US scientist Paul Arciero means a multi-dimensional program that includes resistance training, interval cardio sprints, yoga or pilates and endurance training.
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Findings suggest the need to reassess national health guidelines around the world that currently make recommendations based on minutes or hours spent exercising a week, as opposed to the types of activities that people undertake.
"It’s not about doing more exercise. It’s about doing the appropriate range of exercises and activities that effectively promote health and fitness," Arciero said in a statement.
For their paper published in The Journal of Applied Physiology, Arciero and colleagues from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York recruited 36 females and 21 male volunteers between the ages of 35 and 57 who were obese or overweight.
Divided into three groups, the participants underwent a 16-week trial in which all the subjects consumed the same amount of whey protein — 60 gm a day — but were put on different exercise regimens.
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The first group was sedentary, the second group was put on an intense resistance training program four times a week, and the third group followed a multi-dimensional regimen that mixed cardio and strength training.
While all the participants recorded improvements, the last group, which undertook the most diverse exercise program, lost the most weight (2.6%) and the most fat mass (6.6%) and gained a greater percentage of lean body mass (2%) than the rest of the participants. The findings also demonstrate the importance of protein in people’s diets and suggest upping intake to 35% to reduce body fat.
Similarly, another recent study highlighted the importance of protein in our diet. To build optimal muscle mass, researchers in the US found that protein should be distributed evenly throughout the day, rather than being consumed primarily at night, common in Western diets.