Myth #4: You Have to Do Aerobic Activity to Lose Weight

Lose the Misconception You Have to Do Aerobic Activity to Lose Weight

By: Matt Nicholson

While aerobic activity is certainly important and can greatly contribute to weight loss, there is a common misconception that aerobic activity is the only exercise that will lead to weight loss or that strength training will add muscle mass and cause weight gain.  “We naturally lose muscle mass as we age, so we need an activity that helps us maintain muscle mass as we get older”, says Rania Mekary, a researcher with Harvard School of Public Health.

Mekary and colleagues conducted a study analyzing the physical activity, waist circumference and body weight of 10,500 healthy American men 40 or older and found that men who increased the amount of weight training by 20 minutes a day had less gain in waistline measurements than those who simply increased moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise by a similar amount of time.  Weight loss expert Kathryn Schmitz adds that the results would be similar in women based on a previous study.

While a combination of aerobic exercises supplemented with weight training would be the best combination, it was found that men who did 20 minutes of daily weight training had less of an increase in age-related abdominal fat than those who spent the same amount of time doing aerobic activities, researchers from Harvard reported.  So if you are crunched for time or find it difficult to perform certain aerobic activities, weight training may get better results than aerobic activity because you’re building “a bigger engine,” says Ron DeAngelo, director of Sports Performance Training at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.  With weight training you’re going to gain lean body weight and that is going to make metabolism go up,” DeAngelo says. “So consequently your engine gets bigger and you burn more calories even when you are at rest.”

For best results, combine high-intensity cardio workouts with weight lifting which will be more effective and more efficient than going out for a long run.

Try to target 2 muscle groups per day using light dumbbells, starting with 5-10 pounds, or even body weight

Ways to implement aerobic work into your strength training workout

  • Decrease rest time between sets or perform strength moves as a circuit to keep heart rate up
  • Mix in aerobic training between sets
  • Perform multi-joint interactive lifting exercises


Today Health and Wellness. “To blast belly fat, do this for 20 minutes a day”. Linda Carrol, December 22, 2014.