Combining Aerobics and Weights Tied to Optimal Weight Control

Activities like walking and lifting weights were both tied to a healthier weight, but combining the two may have the most benefits.

Comments: 220

  1. I’m a 61 year old male who desperately wants to lose 35 pounds from his mid-section. My partner is a fan of yoga and bought me sessions at a local Iyengar studio. Oh gee thanks honey, just what I wanted. What, you didn’t get me yoga pants as well? I grudgingly fished out some old gym shorts and started attending classes. After getting over the initial embarrassment of my lack of flexibility and balance, I have to say that we should be teaching this stuff to kids in elementary school. It’s a really cool work out - you’re stretching and using muscles in ways that leave you feeling stronger and more invigorated than almost any other exercise I’ve ever done. I don’t think I’ll be buying yoga pants any time soon, but I’m quickly becoming a convert.

  2. @Timothy I agree, and I also wondered about fitting in, being older and male. But I have always been welcomed, and the instructors repeat that the class is not a competition. I always feel better after yoga, and feel myself being more limber. And I enjoy the idea of leaving the outside world and its worries outside the class.

  3. @Timothy Yoga is cool, but I would propose your fastest path to losing 35 pounds is moving to a high protein and green veggies eating plan, and decrease all sugar intake (note: did not say, eliminate, just decrease a lot). Track macros for a week, and then eat in this manner: at every meal, eat your 40% protein first, then veggies, then lastly carbs, if you have any space left, in that exact order. And drink 64 oz of water daily

  4. So, once again the good folks who are organized enough to do both kinds of exercise (or know they might as wel lie about it on phone surveys) are also smart enough to avoid obesity. And once again, it would be good to see the scatter-plots of results, not just averages that can include over-weighting of extremes lot obese people who are restricted in their ability or inclination to exercise.

  5. Exercise makes you hungry - so do it early, eat early. Perfect routine for keeping slim.

  6. Does lifting and running lead to weight loss, or do people who are highly focused on their health tend to do both, and to watch what they eat as well? I lift and cycle, and was gaining weight at an alarming rate. Five hours of exercise a week meant that I was constantly hungry. Only radical changes in my diet reversed that trend. Sure, go ahead and add weight training to your routine, especially for us seniors it staves off muscle loss, improves balance and posture. But if you want to lose weight, or keep it off after 40, you're going to have to radically change your diet.

  7. @ML, That was my experience, too. Over 20 years ago, I was overweight and out of shape. So I started an exercise program at home, and after 1 year, I was much more fit — but had lost no weight (though I didn’t gain any, either). And I did both aerobic and weight training, along with yoga. Then I changed my eating habits, practicing portion control and making healthier choices (eg, a banana with my morning coffee instead of a pastry), and I gradually lost 25 pounds over about 18 months. And I’ve kept it off. Then, a few years ago, I changed my eating habits again, switching from vegetarian to whole plants foods (which meant dropping dairy products and eggs and avoiding processed foods) — and I lost another 10 pounds without trying or meaning to. And I’ve kept that weight off, too. Get Thin in the Kitchen, Get Fit in the Gym.

  8. @Dr. J Eating whole plants food sounds healthy but it will become unhealthy if it depletes you of vitamin B-12.

  9. @Ed, I do take supplements of B12. Since I don’t eat processed foods, which means that I don’t eat foods fortified with B12. It turns out that elderly people tend to lose the ability to actively absorb B12; about 1 in 3 are vitamin B12 deficient. So they need to take supplements, in large enough doses to enable them to passively absorb B12 through their intestines. But 1 in 6 meat eaters are also B12 deficient! I have not read any explanation for this. Even animals raised for human consumption are now supplemented with B12, since they are getting so little in what they are fed (which I shudder to think about). I think that every person should be tested for B12 deficiencies, since the symptoms can be so severe (up to dementia). Supplementation is fairly easy; the vitamin is made by bacteria in fermenters. In fact, we used to get B12 from our drinking water, before we started treating it to kill all bacteria, benign and even good as well as pathogenic. So every person should be tested for B12 deficiencies.

  10. Good to hear. I fairly recently added hand weights to my exercise and have now progressed to the “boring color” grey or black ones and away from all the pretty pink, purple etc ones. Progress I guess as the pretty color ones must be targeted to women. As I’m also working on losing the extra pounds I acquired last year(lived too close to a good bakery), I’m glad to hear that combining weights with lots of walking (and changes in diet) helps with weight loss.

  11. @Greenie I found that with kettle bells, 15 pounds was the "magic number" at which they stopped looking like Donny Osmond's door stop :D

  12. I have tried many variations of this over the years, including 10 years of martial arts, a discipline which of course figured out optimal health and fitness 1500 years ago. I was in “great shape” but what finally enabled me to lose weight was fasting. The 5/2 plan worked for me - lost 25lbs and have kept it off for years. Turns out the monks have that figured out also, and rarely eat after noon in the more disciplined sects.

  13. @JB So... did you lose the weight and then become 7/0 or is this more like a permanent lifestyle change? Just curious

  14. These findings are about as preliminary as they can get. Maybe the folks who did both types of exercise (aerobic and weights) simply exercised more than those who did only one type. The major take-home from the study is that, once again, people who move more tend not to be obese. It is a correlational finding, but consistent with studies that use experimental, not observational, methodologies.

  15. Today’s exercise efforts are really meant to counter our modern, generally low activity lifestyles. It seems that this research confirms that an active lifestyle, as led by people in Blue Zones throughout the world, is what can take and keep off extra weight. Eat real, whole, plant based food, and walk instead of driving, stay active in other ways, and get off the couch when you can - it all adds up.

  16. As a life long athlete, this is nothing new. Everyone needs to follow this form of physical discipline all their lives. However, having good genes probably is the best way of living longer...

  17. Half the reason I take long rides is just so I don't graze around the house... So now that I've got a light weight bike, i'm going to go buy a weight belt with 50 pounds on it...

  18. The photo accompanying the article is out of line as, although aerobic exercise and weight lifting are great, they should NOT be done simultaneously. You would ruin a perfectly good walk by trying to carry hand weights. Both exercises are more enjoyable and effective when done separately.

  19. While I agree we need to do both, the photo at the top of the piece depicts walking with hand weights -- ABSOLUTELY NOT ADVISED because it results in poor posture. Instead, for an upper body workout while you walk, use trekking poles with an angled rubber tip. It's called Nordic-walking. Google it.

  20. Losing weight is difficult, as anybody who has ever attempted to do it can attest. However, it can be done. Of course, it is best to never have gotten unhealthily overweight, but that can be difficult in the world in which we live. Having recently lost 40 lbs, I have read voraciously on the topic of weight loss, and adopted the guidance and anecdotal information that, scientifically, made the most sense to me. I started out with a revamp of my diet, then slowly started exercising, doing aerobic and strength training. I now aim for 5-6 days a week of focused exercise, while also trying to eat whole foods that I prepare at home. I am no angel, however, so will eat pizza on occasion, or have a cookie. However, I have incorporated progressive strength training into my workouts, aiming for hypertrophy and strength, and it has made a world of difference in my strength, balance, flexibility and the shape of my body. Strength training has worked so well for me, and I highly recommend it for those who are able to do it. By the way, I am a 54 year old woman, and mother of two and full-time employee, who has been on this weigh loss journey for about a year, to put some perspective on my anecdotal tale.

  21. Congratulations on choosing healthy options. It is probably the most difficult thing to do, particularly with your commitments to family and career. Celebrate your accomplishments!

  22. @JBHart Congratulations on your journey. I am also a 54 year-old mom just starting on a similar journey to get fit and lose 40 pounds. I’d love to hear more about what you’ve learned along the way - inspiring!

  23. @JBHart : Congratulations. I need to be learning from you.

  24. Exercise might help you get fit. It’s all about diet, and ditching the carbs and sugar. Simple as that. Quit sugar lose the weight.

  25. @Oh My Right on! Less sugar and carbs are essential to losing weights but most importantly, EAT LESS, it works.

  26. @Arnold "EAT LESS, it works." This is not helpful, really. Many people who struggle with obesity have a gut microbiome that makes losing and keeping off weight very challenging. Eating less but then not feeling satiated can lead to binge-eating. Also your "less (fewer) carbs" mantra is antiquated.

  27. So would HIIT fit the bill for the combining of cardio and strength training? As far as the obesity problem in general I think that It is so easy to be sedentary in the US. I know, I did it for 30 years resulting in being 30 lbs overweight, high cholesterol, chronic lower back pain etc, etc. Exercise and good food habits have totally turned that around for me. It didn't happen overnight and there were many setbacks along the way. I'm 65 now and very happy with my health going into retirement

  28. I’m 38 and breastfeeding so my situation is a bit different than normal but since New Year’s Day my husband and I vowed to eat nothing but homemade food (no eating out) and I workout everyday for 30 minutes on the peloton and strength train once a week, plus lugging around my 1 year old. While I don’t own a scale (floors in my house are too uneven) my clothes have gotten much looser. As for food, I barely changed what we would normally eat, I just cook it at home, usually from scratch. The simple reality is food made in a restaurant setting is heavily processed with additional sugar and fats. You’re probably eating way more carbs than you think (when you eat lunch at home you’re probably not making French fries with your sandwich most weeks). The strength training and cardio helps with my overall health, and yes, reduces weight, but I see it as a way to stave off aches and pains which way too many people have, rather than a means to burn off a high calorie meal.

  29. Good health is a result of multiple factors: genes, geographic residence, fortune, diet, exercise, good sleep and active stress management. Since there is no certain way to determine the relative importance of each of these and some of them are not controllable, it would seem prudent to act on as many of the modifiable factors as possible. Exercise should include a combination of aerobic fitness, strength training and flexibility enhancement.

  30. I set the course for my current health back when I was 40 and began to seriously change my exercise habits and my diet. I am now 72 and have been able to overcome the genetic tendencies in my family; Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease. Hiring a trainer can be a big boost to changing your body. A good one will ensure you are using proper posture to not hurt yourself and push your body to perform at stronger levels. Moderate weights, stretching and aerobics in some combination will push you into a new healthier state immediately. It's never too late to start. Just do it. You are your best transformer of your life.

  31. @Paul Pedrazas Agreed. Having a trainer is a real benefit not only for proper posture and pushing you to high levels but as a motivator too. My mind trIes to convince me not to go to the gym sometimes but paying for a trainer means I have to go or leave money on the table. My trainer also texts me during the week to make sure I stay on track. I budget the cost as part of healthcare and skip fancy dining out. It can be expensive but if you can possibly swing it, worth every penny.

  32. @Paul Pedrazas I am 72 as well and have been exercising for most of my adult life (Martial arts, Aerobics, Step, Cardio boxing, Bicycling, Circuit training, etc.) I found something useful in each of those activities but I have settled on weight training and cardio. My trainer wants me to do cardio after I finish weight training so that I can burn fat. Diet is the challenge and sugar and fat are the culprits.

  33. Why do researchers keep researching and confirming the obvious?

  34. @ABC Because they need to do something to keep their jobs/funding and proving the obvious is the path of least resistance. Generating a novel finding through research is hard.

  35. It would be interesting to see some research on how early childhood and young adulthood activity influences later fitness and weight. I was a mega-athlete during my early years (often 5 hours of strenuous exercise per day, including both endurance and weight workouts from about age 12), but then stopped almost entirely during college, pregnancy and child-rearing. Yet somehow all my later years of inactivity never influenced my weight -- I even had to struggle to keep it on while breastfeeding (oh the woes of having to eat 3 bars of Swiss chocolate daily). Could the "set-point" be fixed earlier in life than most studies include in their investigations?

  36. I have been trying to frequent the gym more and I finally found a program I really enjoy so for the past two weeks I have been waking up at 4:30am to go to my local Y and weight train. The program is 4 strength training days, 1 cardio day, and 2 rest days a week. My BMI is right on the edge of normal and overweight, I weigh myself every day and haven't seen a huge drop in weight (maybe 1-2 pounds so far if that) but I do feel a lot better, and I'm starting to see a smidge of definition in my arms when I flex. I've also been watching what I eat, trying to eat more whole foods, and read labels. I've also noticed it's done wonders for my mental health so far, I have a lot of comorbid mental disorder symptoms that go along with my tic disorder and the anxiety and depression symptoms have really eased up. I know I have just started my fitness journey but I'm hoping I can stick with it and create healthy habits, after reading that article yesterday about how half of Americans could be obese by 2030, I don't want that to be me.

  37. K...drop the BMI fixation. its an absurd measurement. Im fit, lean and strong, can run under the alleged ideal weight for my height, and Im on the borderline too. its another insurance metric scam. let it go for now.

  38. @K Keep up the good work. Your comment about reading food labels made me realize how the best way to shop for healthy food is to buy food which is not sold with a label

  39. I am almost 60 and do aerobic exercise as often as my schedule allows. I travel most weeks and very long days often making even 30 minutes impossible. I am not slim, but according to my doctor i am in good health. Both my blood pressure and heart rate is optimal for my age group. On weekends I go on long walks with my wife. I will never get my 40 year old body back when I was in great shape shape due to a very disciplined work out routine, but as I enter my latter years I want to be as healthy as I can and so far so good. I look forward to retirement when I will reenter my old 5 day workout schedule and hopefully slough off some of the pounds that I picked up on the road. But my focus is on health not appearance as fighting to look young is a futile and wasteful endeavour.

  40. Studies like these need to be taken with a huge healthy dose of skepticism. My husband was once asked questions on the phone for a health survey — and the questions were hilarious, often so vague and nebulous as to be meaningless. It was rare when an answer would be accepted that actually described his lifestyle, in particular his eating whole plant foods, but also how much he exercised and how much he was active and in what ways. (eg, activities like yardwork and snow shoveling were not included.) Plus, another factor, described as “one of the most robust biopsychological phenomena ever described,” is the group of self-labeled “diet resistant” obese individuals who underreport how much they eat by about 47%, and overreport their physical activity by about the same amount. Their intent is apparently not to deceive researchers but themselves.

  41. I was in Physical Therapy school a long time ago, so the research may have changed...however, we were taught that people should separate weight training and aerobic exercise. To gain muscle mass you need to exercise near your one repetition max--in other words, more than just an ankle weight. Studies back then showed that if you aerobic exercise with weight training, you greatly increased your risk of injury, but didn't really increase the benefits of exercise. New studies might show something else, but I doubt it.

  42. @Mason they do. the older research has been proven to be correct (you do gain muscle/strength) but many other protocols work well that were previously assumed to NOT work well. Often, strength is a more important outcome (like in fall prevention) than muscle mass. In some cases they may be 5-10% less effective, but for overall health (including things like mental health, cardiac function, and pulmonary health) it is well worth it to have more flexibility available with timing and exercise type. Because adherence is the more important predictor of success!

  43. I would avoid running with added weights as shown in the photo in this article. I cannot site a study, but I know several runners who were cautioned by their doctor or physical therapist about running while overweight by 10 or 15 pounds or more, especially when done for many years and while older. The caution concerns your knees and the increased risk of knee joint damage and knee replacement down the road.

  44. More than that, the added weight placed in hands is forward of the center of mass and alters posture to strain the back and shoulders.

  45. @AGoldstein The couple in the photograph appear to be practicing Heavyhands, an exercise system from the 80s that combines walking with arm movements using small hand weights. It is a very effective system and (since the practitioner is walking, not running) avoids knee damage. I’ve been practicing Heavyhands for many years and recommend it highly.

  46. MON - mostly upper-body / WED- mostly lower-body / FRI - mostly upper-body - weightwork first, then light CV session to finish. TUE / THR / SAT - extended CV - jog / run / bike / swim / row / hike / climb / any cardio machine - an hour or more as talent / age / ambition allow.

  47. I have been a Stott Pilates client for 23 years this March. For the last 6 years I have been taking 2-1 hour lessons/week along with a TRX advanced lesson 2x/week. Lastly I walk 6 miles 5x/week. Although I gained ~10 lbs during menopause I am still same size I was 12 years ago. At 63 people ask how I look so good while still working part-time, caregiver to both my parents and husband with TBI. My answer? MOVE. My Dad is 88, exercises regularly and on no medication. I hope I keep it up!

  48. We’ve known for a long that aerobic exercise, strength training, stretching are the cornerstones of an overall fitness program. The study adds very little. The problem is the obesity crisis, people eat too much for a variety of reasons. The solution is not more exercise but less eating.

  49. Isn't it most likely to indicate that if someone both does aerobic exercise and weight training they are the kind of person who stays in shape?

  50. No mention of what sort of food intakes these people engaged. That is a or the major variable in weight gain, and without considering that in the study, it makes the study useless regarding weight control.

  51. So let me see if I got this right: People who are active usually weigh less than those who aren’t? And further, if they’re very active and lift weights, they are even more likely to maintain a healthy weight? Wow! What a revelation.

  52. @Lois Murray Hahaha! I know right? Join us next time when we delve into how water is wet, and fire is hot...but fire and water together are neither quite as hot, nor as wet. Steam---More on this at eleven.

  53. Much of my strength training does raise my heart rate more than my cardio training. Kettlebell swings, farmer walks, Turkish get-ups, and others really raise my heart rate. I don't see how strength and cardio can be separated.

  54. The author of the article should provide a clearer articulation of the difference between correlation and causality. Based upon the way that they are presented in the article, none of the cited studies establish a causal link between exercise (aerobic or strength training) lead to weight loss. Certainly healthier people engage in one or both types of exercise. Whether health results in a propensity to exercise or exercise results in health is unclear. Individual examples cited in the reader comments are just that: Individual examples. Anecdotes do not constitute conclusive data.

  55. @Thom You're right. There's a very substantial body of evidence that exercise alone does not lead to weight loss, nor does it determine risk of weight gain. If someone burns more calories, they naturally responding by increasing intake. So while exercise is certainly beneficial, if weight loss is the goal calorie intake must still be controlled. As in - here - Luke A, Cooper RS. Physical activity does not influence obesity risk: Time to clarify the public health message. Int J Epidemiol 2013:42:1831-36

  56. My BMI puts me at "overweight" but my bodyfat is around 25% and I've lost 150 pounds since 2015 and not had surgery to remove excess skin and some of the fat that would go with it. I fence 6 hours a week (high intensity aerobic workout). I Olympic weight lift 3 hours a week (snatch, clean, deadlift, press, squat, etc.) I do Pilates and yoga at least 2 hours a week. I monitor what I eat. I'd love to get my body fat down further, but I've got muscles visible that most people never see at 58. Yes, aerobic exercise and resistance training combined help keep weight off. But the real work is done in the kitchen and not in the gym. You have to be aware of what you are eating.

  57. I just spent a week on NutriBeach diet. About 800 cal/day for seven days and I lost one pound. Moreover, there was not enough protein to sustain regular weight training, and the absurdity of putting cupcakes and candy bars and Cheetos on my table was just too much. I eat my own cooking. The processed foods supplied by the diet are insipid, but for a slight metallic aftertaste. After that first week, I traded the Cheetos for a scotch and water and I've lost two pounds since. I can do this forever.

  58. For all of you out there who are serious in your desire to lose weight and are actually willing to do something about it, here's the simple truth: "You get slim in the kitchen, you get fit in the gym." YOUR optimal weight control has never been tied to "combining aerobics and weights," nor will it ever be. YOUR optimal weight control will not be found in a gym, but rather at the end of your fork. You cannot outrun a bad diet. Change what you eat, not your gym membership. Finally, while contemplating changes to your diet, discard the idea that a calorie is a calorie. This message is brought to you (ceaselessly) by the meat/dairy/egg industry, the processed foods industry and Big Soda who want and need you to keep buying their poisonous products. The reality is that it's not how much you eat but what you eat. If you're eating a Whole Foods Plant Based diet, you literally cannot eat too much (for the simple reason that fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense yet calorically light) and the weight will literally fall off. Good luck.

  59. @Greg Gerner Agree, but watch the misuse of the word "literally"

  60. @Greg Gerner You got the right idea here, although, I think it is a bit of a mis-characterization to say that a calorie isn't a calorie. To your body - it is, burned as fuel to power the body - but, and I think that this is the point you are trying to make, as you change your diet, you figure out/realize that to eat the amount of energy that your body needs and not too much, you have to be smart about choosing what those calories are. Its just like balancing a check book -- sure you can go out and buy frivolous items - which are enjoyable in the moment, and then at the end of the month, you're left with nothing to pay rent. Such is your diet. Sure, you can eat 8 bags of peanut M&Ms - but that's all you get - you're left with nothing to actually fill your belly and you end up consuming more than your body needs. As you said - filling your plate with lean proteins and vegetables gets you actually full - and vital nutrients and other beneficial things (like fiber) to boot. You have spent your allotment of calories wisely and you don' t consume more than you need. Its a simple idea that most find difficult to pull off. Most people have no idea the caloric density of things they consume - even seemingly "healthy" foods like nuts.

  61. @talon Nothing was mentioned about "lean proteins". The WFPB way of eating does not concern itself with" lean protein" but with whole food low protein plants. Whole grains, potatoes,legumes, starchy vegetables, fruit ect. Protein is not a concern.

  62. Weight control in my understanding is a side benefit of exercise to maintain fitness and health. We begin to lose muscle as we age, which leads to a host of issues. Strength training helps to maintain muscle mass. Aerobic training has enormous benefits, not least of which is the maintenance of heart health. A healthy diet such as the Mediterranean Diet recommended by the American Heart Association gives us another insurance policy.

  63. There’s an activity that offers an ideal synthesis of cardio and heavy-lifting: manual labor. Even if you hate the mindless suffering of the gym, you can reap most of the same rewards by regularly working in the yard or deep cleaning your home, with the added benefit of having immediate, tangible results to enjoy. Articles about the exercise often omit any mention of this option.

  64. Manual labor? Please. This kind of “exercise” is asymmetrical, repetitive and about as likely to destroy the musculoskeletal system as it is to strengthen it.

  65. @Mimi I know many people who sit at a desk all day and have terrible back pain. I also know many people who work in manual labor, and they are very fit.

  66. @Mimi : It may not work for you but it does for lots of other people, including me. I’ve tried going to the gym on and off for years—I consistently stop going after 6 -8 months. I’m much better with the housework + gardening + walking/jogging-the-dog, etc. Different strokes.....

  67. Maybe don’t end these articles on an unnecessary interpretive note (“you may want to include both resistance and aerobic exercise...”). You may want to consider that the study makes no such suggestion. It’s a correlation. And one that seems pretty obvious: if you do both, you are more likely to be marking a more concerted effort on health/weight management goals. So, surprise, working harder to be a healthy weight correlated to being a heathy weight. Insightful.

  68. So lets be clear. This study found that people who claim to do both aerobic and and weight lifting exercises also are less likely to claim to be obese. I don't know how or why anyone would use this type data to do anything but test a hypothesis defined control groups and the like. This author is particularly bad at making declarative statements on these scientifically weak studies.

  69. This is news?

  70. Can we please stop using tiresome, fat-shaming phrases like "packing on pounds?"

  71. @Joy no, if you're fat, you're unhealthy. Own it, or ignore the article and keep packing on pounds.

  72. tell the cardio queens they need to hit the iron too

  73. Done this for years. 10 lbs in each hand. I started it to deal with my ailing back. I "play" with these weights while walking , lifting the over my head, crossing them behind my back ... Best exercise I know of

  74. Here is a sure fire way to lose weight - put 40 pounds on your back and stair climb as much as you can.

  75. @Mo I know you're being sarcastic but when younger I used a stepper and worked my way up gradually to doing just that for thirty minutes 3x per week. Result? Low resting heart (although bicycling two hours a day 3-4 times a week got it much lower several years later.) Also, a lung capacity 45% greater than a 20-year-old for someone 60+. Not all is sweetness and light, however. Was mistakenly diagnosed with COPD (that nonsense didn't last long) because I had "hyper-expanded lungs" (translation - I took a deep breath) and many specialists in the medical community have no idea how to deal with someone like me (constantly misdiagnosing me on stuff.) Primary care doctors and nurses seem to have no problem. Fitness requires vigilance. Beware the medical community telling you to "lose weight and exercise" (ha ha.)

  76. @Paul B, it is not clear to me that Mo is being sarcastic. Rucking has a large devoted following.

  77. @Mo Or possibly put on that pack and go hike around the Blue Hills or the Middlesex Fells. The stairs routine allows easy access to the workout than getting out, but it just doesn’t seem as an enjoyable day-in day-out routine. (I had done multiple flights of stairs with ankle weights for a period of time, but eventually it became boring)

  78. In no other subject area do I know of so much misinformation, other than perhaps politics. Since the GOP pumps in so much misinformation that may take first place, but exercise, nutrition and weight-loss or maintenance are probably second. This article contributes no new useful information. It might as well be a GOP press release. I am 70 years old and lift weights three times a week to maintain my muscle mass as well as I can, and I walk at least 15 miles a week to keep my heart in shape and burn fat. I eat a diet without any red meat in it, and very little fish, usually tuna, and whole vegetables and legumes. If you use this common sense approach you will be fine--except I am not able to give you details on what weight exercises to perform, how many reps and sets, and so on, which would be seriously helpful to anyone. In that area is also a vast amount of misinformation. These simple guidelines do not sell diet or exercise books, employ personal trainers, all of those things with a profit motive revolving around such a simple thing. If you can act like Homo sapiens did as they emerged from Homo erectus and others from 300 thousand years ago, you are probably going to do just fine. Figure that out and I think you deserve a Nobel Prize in just making a wonderful contribution in general...

  79. ...And, if not done properly, will soon lead to messed-up joints. No thanks.

  80. @BeenThereDoneThat ——-You might enjoy the 23+ year study out of Stanford orthopedics. It compares non-running faculty members to community runners, looking at prevalence of arthitic complaints. Last I saw, runners were doing OK.

  81. It’s the running while having weights on ankles kind of thing that I think the original comment was pointing to.

  82. Nothing newsworth here-Eat less to lose eight,do aerobic and resitance exercise to get fit.... This has been "known" for years....

  83. Congrats! A picture of a Black couple that has nothing to do with the usual stereotypes. I see progress. Congrats again!

  84. My eternal questions...Do people run because they are thin or are they thin because they run? And...why is that in the most extreme weather, hot or cold, the people who are still running are really really thin?

  85. As a physician and obesity researcher who has worked in the field for more than 30 years, I would in no way want to discourage people from undertaking any type of regular exercise, the study quoted here has two serious flaws that are very common in such types of studies: 1) Correlation does not equal causation. As others have noted, there is no way to know whether non-obese people are exercisers by nature or nurture or whether exercise helps keep weight off in otherwise obesity-prone individuals; 2) This was a telephone survey and it is human nature to exaggerate positive aspects (amount and type of exercise, height) and downplay negative ones (body weight), especially if one is trying hard to lose or keep off lost weight. The take home message is that preventing and treating obesity calls for a change in lifestyle but with the expectation there is no magic bullet. Preventing weight gain or weight regain after weight loss is difficult under the best of circumstances. Exercise is great for everyone physically able to undertake it. But it takes dedication to exercise regularly and, for many of us, to maintain a caloric intake commensurate with our daily energy output.

  86. @BLevin While this is no means a perfect study....if you'd taken the time to read the paper, some of these issues are addressed; "A key limitation of this study is the use of self-reported assessments of physical activity and height and weight. However, probable of physical activity among some adult populations with obesity (38) as well as underestimation of BMI are likely biasing associations toward the null. As noted, the cross-sectional design is also a key limitation. It is equally plausible that those who have obesity are less likely to participate in physical activity because of their weight. In addition, BMI has limitations for measuring adiposity and is confounded by muscle mass (39). Nevertheless, compared with other obesity assessment methods, including waist circumference and waist-hip ratio, BMI has been shown (at the population level) to be a comparable assessment method as a predictor of morbidity and mortality (39). (38) Warner et al. Am J Health Behav 2012;36:168-178 (39) Huxley R, et at Eur J Clin Nutr 2010;64:16-22.

  87. @Devil's Advocate - how does, "...if you'd taken the time to read the paper..." contribute anything helpful to the discussion?

  88. I suspect that people who enjoy exercise are thinner than people who don’t, but I have no idea why some like it and some don’t.

  89. Readers should consider the clinical guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine for further information on this subject. The bottom line is, indeed, nothing new. Exercise is the necessary remedy for obesity. For older adults, this includes a program of stretching, cardio and resistance training (weights).

  90. These studies are interesting but it should be very obvious to most people that aerobic exercise, weight training and proper eating habits all will lead to a healthier life

  91. Common sense seems to be uncommon. Should be obvious, but we seem to be living in an alternative reality right now.

  92. @Richard I’ve long maintained that common sense is a most rare commodity.

  93. The study is big, observational,limited in accuracy by its methodology--telephone survey, answers from memory. But there's a clear direction, even if it seems perhaps obvious. Exercise and diet. Diet and exercise. The keys to a healthy weight. Healthy weight means healthy body. Can't be said too often. Some people gravitate to exercise. For me, at least, more exercise does not mean more hunger; it makes me more conscious of the impact of a chocolate chip cookie binge-a constant temptation. Some people gravitate toward sugary foods. It IS hard to exercise when you are overweight. I know. The article remarks that weight regain is common after weight loss; The Biggest Losers studies confirm that's true if you lose weight too fast. It does not seem to be so true for those who lose weight slowly--anecdotally observed. So take what's useful for you, and leave the rest. Exercise and diet create a healthy weight; aerobic and resistance training are complementary. Lose weight slowly; make little cumulative adjustments in lifestyle, portion size, snacking, that are sustainable. Add exercise that's not painful or high impact--for me, stairs (in the house, no gym), body weight situps, pushups, squats, light dumbell reps. Keep it up for a year, and you will feel, look and BE better. There is a lesson here, if you want to hear it. It's easy and useless to get all snarky, or nit picky.

  94. No diet and exercise is not the key. Close your mouth sooner and open less often. Yes it will affect the economy but still that is the solution. That’s what we did when we had cigarettes as our pacifiers.

  95. Indoor and outdoor cycling (13,000 km last year), rowing 10,000 meters a session (12 million lifetime meters), yoga, and weight training alternatively over 7 days a week has worked well for me. I am old enough for Medicare but pass for 10 years younger, particularly when I ride my bicycle and I get asked whether I race (I don't but I pedal with a racer's efficiency). My heath made a significant improvement after I was diagnosed with gout about five years ago. I switched to a low purine diet and since then have lost 20 pounds and went from a 34 waist to a 30 waist. Best of all, every one of my blood chemistry markers are all in the normal zone. Big pharma would be a lot smaller if more people had blood chemistry markers like mine. I don't have to rely on my memory because all of my workouts are tracked on Strava with the raw data available for scientists to examine if they are interested. I know it's hard to do this but I have made it a habit and I have this time built into my calendar so that when it's time to do it, I do it.

  96. A disaster for obese bodies. Stop pretending that what normal weight people do based on the Hamwi method works for fat ones

  97. @Joan Breibart then share what you know works for obese bodies. Don't put down this other person's experience unless you've got something better to offer.

  98. Healthy Diet combined with weights and aerobic exercise are the way to go for weight control and good health overall

  99. No. Overconsumption is what stretches the stomach and messes with our hormones.

  100. @Joan Breibart Wouldn’t you think the phrase “healthy diet” includes in its meaning proper levels of consumption?

  101. I do not know if this is a significant factor in this study result (I wonder if the researchers themselves do) but BMI is not a reliable universal determinant of obesity for individuals. It was created to measure whole populations for which it does quite well. By its nature whole populations will consist of "average" people (outliers on either side of the mean "average out"). And as long as the body composition and age of an individual is also average it will work for them too. But the ideal weight for an individual increases with age (shown in geriatric studies), and for people who lift weights regularly the BMI is wildly inaccurate as it considers dense muscle as being body fat, which it isn't. You don't have to be a dedicated body builder for the weight you add in muscle (which improves the health of men as they age as other recent studies have shown) for the BMI to label you "obese". These factors might skew the results significantly, tending to show for example that less weight training (and thus less muscle) is better since the BMI is lower.

  102. @Carey Sublette BMI is a convenient substitute for height and weight. Sight unseen, it's a pretty good indicator of a person's state of health based solely on weight. Of course, if one could see a person and their physique they could make a better assessment but for a physician, for example, to ask a person to give them their weight measurement would result in wild numbers because people would be giving them pant sizes or measuring the waist after big meals or in the wrong place. So, for now, BMI is the best. And, keep in mind, there's a huge range for every inch of height to accommodate all body types and ages.

  103. @Ron A I meant "waist" measurement.

  104. @Carey Sublette Obese is considered above 30 BMI. For me, 5-10, 170, some muscles, some fat, I would have to gain 40 pounds to have a BMI of 30. A guy with 40 pounds more muscle than me is either a genetic anomaly, taking steriods, or a guy putting in a LOT of time lifting weights.

  105. The results are interesting, but I wonder if the people with the time/discipline/obsessive drive to regularly do both aerobic and resistance exercise are the same ones who do each at pretty high intensity and that is what’s actually keeping their weight down.

  106. Question: is the idea to alternate resistance and cardio OR to do them at the same time (like running with weights)? Thank you for your thoughts on this. Nicolas

  107. @Nicolas I don't think it was the idea but I like it. The instructor from a local fitness center used to run in the park with a weighted vest and he beat me in the sprint!

  108. Weight machines are just fun and interesting. I love to see what other people are using and try a new machine or exercise. Nothing gets you into shape faster. I switch off cardio-only days of walking with days of weights plus a short walk to stretch out afterwards. Add in a day or two of swimming or yoga outside if weather permits. Hope to keep this up for the rest of my life. The older swimmers at the pool and the older fit people at the gym are my role models. Also intermittent fasting works. Also keto helps, although I'm not fanatical about it. Also, avoid any meat or dairy except organic so you avoid antibiotics. That's the stuff used to fatten animals.

  109. "The researchers ... started categorizing [the participants] as either normal weight or obese, according to their body mass index ..." How did the researchers categorize participants who were neither of normal weight nor obese, with BMIs between 25 and 30 and who are classified as merely overweight?

  110. @Craig Willison Sometimes you need to read the article, not just look at yhe pictures.

  111. @chas - I read the article. Dr. Schwartz, of blessed memory, did address these issues with his HeavyHands / "Panaerobic" approach. I agree with @CraigWilison. While it is hard to know exactly how you meant it, your comment struck me as snarky. Presumably, everyone here wants to learn and get healthier. If I'm right, why the snark? Anyway, best to you.

  112. I don’t know how this can be surprising news. The article states the “causes of obesity have been poorly understood.” Really? And exercise deceases the chances of obesity. Really? Anyone who did not understand this already is in denial.

  113. Wrong again! Only way to lose your fat and weights is what and how much you eat. All exercises are great for your body and mind. But exercise of any type cannot burn too many calories.

  114. Amount of body fat is also important. At the same weight a person with more muscle mass is more likely to be healthy.

  115. The last paragraph, more study is needed is absolutely ridiculous. There are 3 criteria to weight problems, genetics, food intake and exercise, if we deal with those we would not have the overweight population that now exists. True one can't control their genes but we can pay close attention to exercise and food intake. Also the day that congress puts their foot on the neck of the food industry and forces them to stop selling unhealthy food to the public we will all be better off.

  116. I power walk with poles. I have ski poles for the winter and straight poles with curved rubber soles for the summer. It is effective and I get a full body workout. It is like a cross county skiing workout. It also helps with stability. It’s called Nordic skiing. Look on YouTube for instructions. Enjoy!

  117. @SJZ There are lots of people in my hiking club that use these. They often tell me it's to save their knees. I don't think it's a good idea because then your legs and feet are not allowed to track normally and to build the muscle memory and endurance you need to be a good hiker. If you truly need these, such as if your doctor advises them because of a recent implant, that's different. Otherwise, I think you're doing yourself a disservice.

  118. @Ron A The effectiveness of poles reducing stress on your knees has been well documented. But more importantly for this aging mountain walker, they help me maintain my balance on rough trails.

  119. @Ron A This isn’t true. Poles are great for hiking especially if you’re prone to twisting your ankles going downhill. Your feet don’t track any differently using them when you’re walking on level ground either. I don’t think they have any effect on the knees, but your arms get more exercise. It was first used by cross-country skiers to maintain their muscles in the summer.

  120. The mechanics are well understood, so this isn't much of a mystery. Doing proper resistance training will increase or maintain muscle mass. That means you have more active tissue that burns energy, and staying at a normal weight becomes much easier as a result. Diet remains the biggest factor, of course. Which is why obesity is so much more prevalent in America than in most other countries. The American food industry has historically faced no regulatory obstacles whatsoever in poisining the public with unhealthy, hyper-processed foods. And even if that has changed a bit, dietary habits are now deeply ingrained. We can certainly rule out a 'fat gene' as the culprit. The idea that Americans are somehow genetically so different from other people, and have become so only in the last few decades, is ridiculous. Especially considering that the American population is much more ethnically diverse than that of most other countries.

  121. People who exercise are conscious of their health. They are more likely to be conscious of their quality and quantity of their food consumption or vice versa. If you are conscious of your food consumption you eat whole foods and plant based with whole grains and NOT the food industries take on it where they package that concept up with tons of sugar, oil, preservatives and processed grains. Many people start thinking about exercise and quality of food consumption only when they have gone past the tipping point when it is so difficult to exercise or change habits and thus get the reinforcement of success.

  122. @Shirley Frye Not always. I eat whatever I want and exercise because it makes me feel ridiculously happy. Runner’s high isn’t a myth for some of us. And you don’t even have to run to experience it.

  123. I’ve lost 25% of my weight in one year through calorie reduction and cardio and weight bearing exercise. I participate in group exercise classes six days a week. Additionally, I’ve found other ways to incorporate physical activity into my life. I socialize in conjunction with activities such as pickleball, line dancing, and kayaking. The unfortunate thing is that I am only able to do all of this daily activity and relentless tracking of calorie consumption because I reached retirement age. I have the time. I moved to a 55+ active lifestyle community. I have the opportunity. I had to grow old to get fit. That is not the way it should be.

  124. Shocking how little emphasis is out on calorie intake and healthy eating..... the size of portions and the amount of sugar in people’s diet surely cannot be balance by a walk and a down dog.....

  125. I lost 80 lbs in 2005 and have kept all of it off through diet and exercise. My impression is that most people want to lose weight but don’t want to change their lifestyles. That doesn’t work. I changed my eating habits and started using a calorie tracker as a means of being aware of how much I’ve eaten. I walk and exercise daily. It works. I think a real commitment to change is what’s needed for most people to have a healthy lifestyle. My family has always been inactive and overweight, so it took a major attitude change to get there.

  126. Another factor not discussed here (not everything can be covered in one short article, I know) is how sleep affects all of these factors. In my own experience, if I get enough sleep, preferably going to bed on the early side and getting up before dawn, I have both the time, energy and motivation to exercise and eat well. If I sleep poorly I’m usually feeling sluggish and lifting weights is the last thing I feel like doing. And I eat more as well, as my brain thinks that my lack of energy is because it needs more food. Just another piece of the puzzle...

  127. "probably because exercise makes people hungry." so its not effective. and therein lies a huge problem in the US. heaven forbid some people feel a little hungry...and do not satisfy that ache immediately. being a little hungry is not a bad thing. having an empty stomach is not a bad thing. other than those who are in serious nutritional threat, too many Americans are literally scared of being hungry between meals. so they snack and snack. and then make up fake low blood sugar excuses. Americans eat too much, too often. period. thats the cause. followed by a sedentary lifestyles.

  128. In other words, the best way to maintain a healthy weight is to live like humans always have. We walked, or moved around in some other way, and we lifted things- children, food preparation items, building materials, etc. We squatted to relieve ourselves. Most people now couldn't go into a squat if their life depended on it. Combine those activities with eating foods that aren't made in factories, and we've pretty much got the solution. Now, if it were only easy for everyone to DO these things. It's much easier to sit on the sofa watching professional athletes move around while we eat some processed food item. Like I just did a few minutes ago... But I am trying to do better, and started actually using my rowing machine, conveniently set up where I can watch TV so I am not bored out of my mind. Pretty sure I have rowed all the way to the neighboring state in the past couple weeks, and it feels great! I also keep my weight bar and hand weights nearby to remind me to use them. Doesn't make for the prettiest family room, but my health is the priority. I have been keeping a spreadsheet of my measurements, and while my weight hasn't changed in the past several weeks, after one week of rowing, my fat arms reduced by two inches. Two inches in one week! So keep moving, everyone, it works, and it feels good!

  129. @N equals 1 That's a great result and proof that exercise works! Keep it going. You know it helps with the boredom to let your mind wander. Imagine you're in a canoe rowing with the Lewis and Clark expedition. Those men rowed 2,000 miles along rivers from Mississippi to Oregon and, eventually, back. And, they didn't even know for sure where they were going. They were making maps and charting the unknown. It's a great story of some really strong, courageous men and you should be part of it! Yesterday, on the treadmill at the gym, I imagined I was running through a grassy field of wildflowers on a nice sunny day. Sure helped me. It was a cold and rainy day.

  130. @Ron A Thanks, Ron! Sounds like your ability to visualize is a lot better than mine, but I do like to imagine sometimes that I'm rowing on the Olympic team. :-) So I guess that's something else to consider in this process. Think about what motivates you, and figure out how you can incorporate that into your exercise routine to keep you going. For me, competition is a strong motivator.

  131. @N equals 1 I got a rowing machine last year for the days I can’t or don’t want to go to the gym and was surprised at how much rowing consistently (twenty minutes a day five or six times a week) can tone your muscles while you get in an aerobic workout. It was one of the harder machines to start using, but if you begin by concentrating on technique until you get it right and increase the time gradually, it’s not so bad.

  132. Once again, an "oldie but goodie". Must we rehash old information?

  133. My workouts this winter are ten parts running to one part resistance exercise and that one part is mainly to keep my core tight and my legs strong so I can run some more. Running has been the greatest exercise I've ever done for weight control but I didn't start it for that reason. I didn't even know it was good for that. I started running as a challenge to see if I could do a half marathon like my sister. You could've knocked me over with a feather when I dropped 40 lbs in the first 4 months of running. I thought my scale was broken. It's true the increased exertion really burned the fat off me but I also helped it along by making significant changes to my diet. That was 11 years ago and I'm still at the same BMI of 22. There is a very strong incentive for me not to gain because I like to run and I like to run fast and that's just not going to happen with a belly bouncing around. Sure, I miss the scarfing of donuts and ice cream but it's not worth getting sick over.

  134. the secondary headline and picture made me think this was going to be about carrying weights while doing aerobic exercise. and I groaned, remembering the old "heavy hands" (product) short lived moment in the Fitness Craze sun. while carrying weight around - farmers walk, suitcase carries, sled push/pulling, etc - is a good form of exercise, carrying dumbells around the local high school track, as we still some old folks doing, isn't so good. I had several older clients with shoulder an bicep injuries carrying weights while walking and jogging. best to do one then the other, and if you're really talented and have great balance, you can mix it up in short bursts. but keep the weight light.

  135. A good heavy or long sessions with weights does not make most people hungry. Certainly not the way a good long 1 or 2 hr walk might. After weight training, just drink a lot of water or healthy electrolyte solution. Heavy weight training in particular makes one almost nauseous..or at least less interested in eating. Larger or more dense muscles require more calories to support them....24 hrs a day, not just at the time of exercise. The final push is of course Away From The Table.

  136. What would happen if the government refused benefits to any person with a bmi over 25? My guess is the population would suddenly find self discipline.

  137. @jr BMI is not a completely accurate measure of a person's fitness. It does not factor in percentage of body fat. The other issue here is that many people with a high BMI have either paid taxes or are paying taxes now. Your suggestion is discriminatory. I hope you and the people you love never find yourselves with a health condition where you take medicine with extreme weight gain as a side effect.

  138. @lilmissy Agreed. By the BMI charts I'm overweight. My "problem" is being muscular. I also run middle distance races (olympic tris, 10-milers, half marathons), finishing in the top 10% of my age group. If insurance or other programs were tied to BMI it would be very unfair and a disincentive to do strength training that in fact makes me a more fit, less-prone-to-injury runner/triathlete.

  139. @Russ Klettke I'm in the same boat. The latest is to combine waist measurements with BMI. So a male with a waist of more than 40 inches is overweight/obese (35 for women.) That's an improvement but not sure it captures all the details. Best method is the bathroom mirror. If my abs start disappearing, time to cut food intake.

  140. If you're looking for a way to start, Google Cathe Friedrich.

  141. @Jen Love Cathe, and love her metabolic training workouts-which is weights with aerobics!

  142. I find Orange Theory Fitness has provided me with the magic combination of cardio and weights. I ran for years but was never able to keep weight off until I added the weights and resistance exercises they teach. Being guided through a workout minute by minute, accompanied by music and the company of other enthusiasts has made it easy to stay committed. 🧡

  143. "Exercise does not seem, for instance, to be very effective at helping most overweight people to drop pounds..." I'm not so sure this is true. When I exercised for about an hour a day most days along with eating a healthy low-fat diet, I lost a total of 80 or more pounds and kept it off for three years, until I stopped following the healthy diet. We know that exercise promotes muscle growth and that muscles burn more calories than does fat. If nothing else, exercise will make the pounds look better as muscle replaces fat.

  144. @Barbara I'm an exercise advocate and love you were able to do that. But because this was based on self reporting, I suggest many of those people who bring a book to the gym and read it while slowly peddling a stationary bike are among those "exercisers" who don't lose weight.

  145. @Russ Klettke It's more likely people who have metabolic syndrome that are exercising, and even dieting, and unable to lose weight - due to hormone / insulin responses. While there is a factor of self responsibility to making healthy changes, there are a myriad of obstacles to doing so. If it were truly easy, people would do it. There is nothing to be gained by shaming and blaming people - as neither of these responses does anything but increase and reinforce the behaviors that need to change. Additionally, we are in the dark ages about weight loss. It's not calorie in and calorie out, it's not exercise, it's not so much of what people assumed for so long. With a rapidly increasing obesity epidemic it behooves us to find the legitimate science of how to battle this health crisis - both physically and psychologically - self congratulatory shaming isn't an answer.

  146. I lost quite a bit of weight last year in Europe, because I had to walk a kilometre to the food shops, then carry a day's worth of food, cleaning products and toiletries back that kilometre to the apartment. It wasn't possible to haul back much in the way of desserts or sweet treats- too heavy. So there's your exercise and light weight lifting right there, combined with restricted access to food. Once I came back to NZ and could drive my car to the supermarket, guess what happened? Our cars are not only destroying the planet via pollution, they are ruining our health and good looks.

  147. @Lisa As a native Californian, a driver since age 16 and currently a senior who drives rarely due to traffic, parking and general chaos on the roadways, I say "don't blame the cars" for excess weight. Out of frustration, I decided three years ago to walk and/or take public transit whenever I could. I lost 20 pounds and my formerly compromised lungs are stronger than ever. Cars are great -- for long distance travel and/or hauling junk. Otherwise, use your body while you can.

  148. Even if the science is incomplete in explaining why this combination of resistance and aerobic activity adds up to lower obesity incidence, lemme offer an hypothesis: Those people (myself included) are just more consistent in staying active. Gym is closed? I'll go for a run. Too rainy to run? I'll go to the gym. Legs are sore? Today I'll swim. Can't do either? I'll do some housework.

  149. Weighing IN. We, as humans, living organisms, born towards dying, with diverse opportunities for living, as well as surviving are enabled, amongst many known, unknown and unknowable considerations also by realities’ dimensions. Unpredictabilities. Unpredictabilities. Randomness. And whatever our efforts, timely or not, there is no total control. As one waits; “weighting,” or not. Exercising planned muscle-movements. Or not. Exercising poor judgements as well as healthy decisions. Dieting or not. Sustainable, as well as not. Each day. By ourselves, as well as with others. Towards wellbeing. Process and outcomes. Many diverse opportunities. Daily. Choices! NOW, as well as out OFF. Muscles, real and metaphoric ones matter, as endless matters “muscle” into daily coping. Adapting. Functioning. Well, as well as NOT. BEing. BEcoming. Another study. Studies don’t choose. Each of US can. Each of US does. In timely ways. Or not. WE matter. As living, menschlich-muscles that can choose to make a needed difference. Weighing IN.

  150. @S.Einstein.” : I couldn't have said it better myself.

  151. Amazing study! I wonder if people add more weight when they have a combined dessert of ice cream AND cake than people who eat only icecream.

  152. "Exercise does not seem, for instance, to be very effective at helping most overweight people to drop pounds, probably because exercise tends to make people hungry." No. The key to weight loss is diet, not exercise. Exercise helps with cardio vascular health including building lean muscle mass for people who lift weights. We don't start to lose fat until glycogen stores have been depleted. The less sugar (carbs) you eat, the sooner glycogen will be depleted and the sooner you can lose fat/weight.

  153. Exercise is awesome. But it's your diet that must change for long-term fat loss. I personally espouse a ketogenic diet with fasting as the most effective and can be followed for life. I suppose if you are a young person in great shape, you can use exercise to make up for bad eating, but it will catch up to you eventually.

  154. Headline: "Combining Aerobics and Weights Tied to Optimal Weight Control." Sentence in article: "Perhaps most important, (the study) does not tell us how augmenting walks or other aerobic activities with weight training might help us to avoid obesity." So how are combining aerobics and weights tied to optimal weight control? Did I miss something?

  155. The study only shows an association. People who weight train and do cardio have a lower rate of obesity compared with those who don’t exercise or those who only do one or the other. As the author writes, it doesn’t tell us why or how.

  156. There’s growing data that metabolic disorders account for quite a bit of obesity in the US. While exercise is great for a lot of reasons, it can’t cure or prevent these disorders, which seem to be tied to the quality and type of food available. Most poor communities only have access to the kinds of food that promote metabolic disorders. The solution to the “obesity epidemic” is solving the “poverty epidemic.”

  157. I would caution making any conclusions when using BMI and weight training in the same study. Increasing muscle mass increases your BMI, which can easily put an individual in the obese category despite having a low body fat level. This is exactly why the US Army has height/weight standards, but also a rudimentrary body fat assessment, if you fail the former.

  158. Very true. A muscular person can easily be overweight by the BMI standard.

  159. @Brad W. One of my students(a beginner) s female 5'7" and 110lbs, who due to lack of muscle/muscle tone have a BMI over 25. Another student of mine(intermediate)is female 5'6", 135lbs and her BMI(weighed underwater)has a BMI of 18.5 she is in excellent health and not overweight, the previous young lady's weight is fine for her but as she progresses and develops muscle her wight will probably rise 2-5lbs and that is fine as well. BMI does not necessarily tell the whole story nor does it always provide an accurate story.

  160. Why does every article like this end with "more study is needed, *of course.*"? No, we don't. I've worked in fitness for over 20 years and everyone with a minimum amount of fitness knowledge that works in the field knows that the combination of aerobic and resistance exercise is the path to optimal health. As the authors of "Younger Next Year" put it, "Cardio saves your life, resistance training makes it worth living." One benefits the cardiovascular system, the other benefits the muscular system and joints.

  161. People keep pointing out that BMI has limitations because of the impact of muscle mass on this ratio. Body builders and strength athletes are highly conscious and disciplined with their diets as well as their workouts. They are quite aware that BMI charts have no relevance to the status of their weight/ health; they are also a tiny slice of the population. The vast majority of Americans are correctly assessed by the BMI ratio. In addition to that, put a tape measure around your waistline. Most of us do not have a body builder’s tiny waistline. It is better to be honest to ourselves that we need to take charge of our health than make up excuses like the flimsy ones against BMI. I don’t believe in fat-shaming others. But I only did something about my weight problem because I was willing to admit I had one. Good luck to everyone struggling to develop better habits.

  162. @Alex In what weigh are is a "vast majority" of Americans are correctly assessed? I can tell you that they are not, many 'health care professionals' look at weight, height and then determine BMI based on a chart. That is wholly wrong. The best way is underwater weighing, a second method involves a tape measure, calipers, and pencil and paper for some simple arithmetic or a calculator.

  163. C’mon, how stupid do you think we are? This is just reverse causation. It isn’t that exercise causes less fatty people, it’s that fatty people cannot exercise as much. Associational studies like this do not, cannot, show causation. And trials, when properly done, almost always show no significant long run causal weight loss from any kind of exercise. They just don’t. Aerobic and resistance exercise can causually increase lung and muscle function and balance and improve balance, but let’s quit lying to people about any significant obesity or weight loss effects.

  164. @SRP Your assertion is not quite true in my case. I was quite obese - 5'9" and 240 lbs at the age of 57 - last July. Goaded by friends, I started moderating my diet (no sweets) and also started walking (an hour daily) and weights twice a week. My weight is down to 206 lbs. My goal is to shed another 25 - 30 pounds. Several of my friends have experienced the same. Dieting alone does not help. If you are overweight and have the will power to go on a diet then you can start exercising as well.

  165. @SRP That's not really true ("fat people can't exercise as much.) there are any number of powerlifters (specializing in bench press, squats, deadlifts) who are overweight and even obese. And if you really want to see an obese person doing a lot of exercise, check out the YouTube videos of "Second Chance Hiker" who did the Pacific Crest Trail over the course of 5 months. Started at about 400 lbs, lost up to 100 at one point. I've never seen anyone work so hard.

  166. Thank you for this interesting study!

  167. I’ve been doing 30 minutes of weights followed by about 20 minutes on the treadmill. It’s been great keeping my weight down and strength up. Of course, what and how much I eat matters even more.

  168. As one who has had a regular exercise and nutrition program for many years here is a fact often overlooked by all of these studies........You can out eat ANY exercise program. No matter how hard you work out, how often, or what type of exercise, if you are eating more calories than you are burning you are going to gain weight. It's all in what you eat and how often you eat. Period. Mic drop.

  169. @Mike Faulkner Oh of course you are right. This article only makes a good point for those of us who are always looking for a better way. The bare truth as you said is that it's all about the diet. Except I disagree with you about the calories part -- it's the quantity and quality of your food. I follow a mix of the Blue Zone styles. Plant-based, some meat, IF, sometimes 1 -2 meals a day. and very small portions. I am in excellent health (70) at my high school weight (110). I used to be a trainer, long time member of Lifetime, and was always amazed at the folks who slogged away day after day and got fatter and fatter. Any good study says diet is over 70% of your weight gain or loss. The only exception might be males under 30 who are athletes. They can usually eat all they want.

  170. @Mary Rivkatot Well you can eat 3000 calories of pea protein a day but if you're only burning 2000 calories you'll gain weight. But of course a plant based diet is more healthy and will help to maintain certain health metrics than the typical American diet. So feeling better and being in better health is a goal unto it's own. But the calorie argument still holds as far a pure weight gain goes.

  171. @Mike Faulkner Well, sure, but not to be so negative. If you're not overeating but just eating what you need, then all the calories burned from exercise will help you lose weight.

  172. Good idea. Always looking for new things -- maybe when the weather warms and I am walking outside. However, might not be such a good idea on the treadmill -- sometimes you need to hold on. One of the older Lifetime clubs in my city has amazing and frequent group classes. There are many older folks so the pace is not daunting. After a "lifetime" of going it alone except for group outdoor fitness, I started attending these classes because it's below zero outdoors. What a difference. I realize now I was just going through the motions. If you are bored with your routine and not progressing, try a group class -- you will discover you are not as fit as you thought -- especially the core and balance work.

  173. Agree! Also classes are motivating as I tend to work out longer. Yoga and water aerobics are my two favorites. I combine with weight bearing exercises for my bones like the treadmill. I love walking and do so as much as possible. The photo of the couple carrying weights is a great idea and one I will start on my next walk.

  174. @Mary Rivkatot Not to worry as walking with weights is NOT resistance training and very few people maintain and/or do not know proper form and form is everything.

  175. The article gives an approximate amount of the exercises (aerobic activity 150 min/wk and resistance exercise twice/wk), but it does not tell us the intensity of these exercises. How hard does one need to work out to see a lower incidence of obesity?

  176. @RH The 150 mins is the recommendation of the CDC for a number of years now and it is a minimum and is at moderate intensity. It is not related to obesity reduction. Best way to find the level you need to exercise to lose weight is to keep increasing it until that happens. Of course, you'd need to do that gradually so as not to injure yourself. For me, I need 10 hours a week of vigorous exercise- the kind that makes me sweat a lot- to begin to see weight loss.

  177. But do we need science to confirm what is obvious? I am a very healthy 72 year old with a body that appears at least twenty years younger. I have lifted heavy weights and engaged in various aerobic activities for 50 years, still lifting weights far heavier than gym colleagues think possible for my age. I never needed any scientific studies to realize that these activities were essential to creating a healthy body that would enable me to continue to enjoy numerous physical activities in my old age.

  178. I'm almost 56 and have been going to an intensive weight training class approximately twice a week for over two years and discovered the other wonderful thing about it: a reduction in aches and stiffness in your muscles and bones. I used to have random shoulder/upper arm pain and a limited radius of movement, and now it's completely cured. Also, doing lots of squats holding weights will keep those knees supple for years.

  179. I was talking to the janitor at my health club recently. He observed that he really liked working there because almost everyone was in a good mood. (We have all age groups. I am 72.) I thought about this and agreed. Almost everyone I know there is pleasant, even those with age related, and other, disabilities. Exercise is good for both physical and mental health.

  180. @Steve yes, but also it may be that people who have the time and money to go to the gym are in a good mood. I don't feel like I currently have the time or money to go to a gym - which is fine, I wear a fitbit and make sure to get a minimum of 11K steps/day, and I do body-weight exercises like push-ups every day. But it would be nice to go to a gym.

  181. @zil Money is not necessary to have an effective workout plan. There are so many terrific exercise programs on Youtube that I am sure you could find at least 5-10 videos that would work for you, save the Fitbit bucks and invest in a small set of hex-weights they are inexpensive and last a lifetimes and after your pushups do an equal number of reverse pushups.

  182. I do not disagree with exercise. However, the BIG factor influencing weight is diet. If you have poor diet and/or eat more than you need - you will not be able to manage the weight by exercising. So this article misfires..

  183. No need to head to the gym, buy pair of weights, a mat and an exercise bike and you can exercise at home. I am 81 and exercise keeps me relatively sane in the long WI winter. Lift as slowly as you can stand it. To gain muscle mass or to maintain it your muscles have to be slightly damaged from lifting. As to aerobic exercise get your heart rate up to the near maximum use modern charts that take into account resting pulse rates and your age tell you what your near maximum heart rate should be. My resting pulse is 65 and I try for 115 to 120. In addition try the very easy to do reducing your daily caloric intake by only 300 calories a day. Exercise alone without a decrease in calories is not going to reduce weight unless you are a lumber jack working in near zero temperatures or cross country ski for miles in frigid conditions.

  184. I agree with another poster regarding walking with hand weights is not recommended and widely known--there are many articles that support this. Poor choice of stock photo.

  185. Five years ago I weighed 211. I’m 5’9. I’d ignored how I looked. It was easy to do that since so many I knew looked just like me or worse. I made a commitment after seeing my son come home from college weighing 175 and cut after losing 35 lbs. First I broke my sugar addiction. It’s in almost every thing. I cont’d to do my mile in the pool that had watched me gain weight. I cut out all alcohol and artificially sweetened anything. Smoothies and fresh fruit curbed my appetite. Vegetables were key. But so was lean meat (not too much!) Spinach omelettes, nuts, whole grains. 3 yrs later I’m 178lbs, 67 yrs old. People ask me if I had cosmetic surgery (no). It’s hard work but boy do I feel better

  186. I imagine most people reading this article are affirming what they already know and practice. The reality is finding the time and financial resources to maintain an exercise routine and healthy diet is a luxury. By the way, I combine aerobics and weights as part of my exercise routine which actually makes me crave healthier foods. Most people I know just don't have the time to carve out for exercising and expensive farmer's markets.

  187. @bfrllc I think that the time/money argument is a little insincere for a lot of people. Rice, beans, nuts, conventional produce (even frozen) are all reasonably affordable, can be bought in bulk, and prepared ahead of time. This is one of those cases where perfect is the enemy of the good. You don't have to shop at expensive farmer's markets or buy organic produce if you can't afford it. I've put together healthy enough meals from food from my corner bodega. Yet, I see so many of my friends using that as an excuse for why they buy potato chips and frozen dinners, which are both more expensive and less healthy than anything you can make yourself. Similarly, there are a ton of ways to workout at home or outside that do not require pricey equipment, a gym membership, or over-priced classes. There are free yoga classes online in addition to literally thousands of at-home workouts on pinterest and instagram. Doing something as simple as getting off the bus or subway a stop early, or parking 10 minutes from your destination, and walking the rest of the way can add up to huge benefits. People make time for the things that are important to them. You workout because it's important to you and so you've sacrificed time that would be spent in other ways in order to do that. I bet the same people who can't find time to work out have no problem finding time for an episode or two of whatever Netflix show they're watching each night.

  188. I agree. Every meatless "meat like" product I've seen has added sugar, as does almost every single healthy SEEMING Kashi cereal whose expert marketing leads to consumers paying premium prices.

  189. @bfrllc I'm pretty low-income, not poverty level though, and I walk 2-5 miles/day, have some dumbells purchased from Walmart, have a huge seasonal garden from which I freeze a lot to last through winter, and hunt for the best of organic meats - elk, deer, antelope. I just don't have a cow.

  190. What about Yoga? I do weights and yoga. I get steps from nursing, we run all day. Even so, you need flexibility and balance that weights cannot give you.

  191. @Calleendeoliveira Try loading a barbell with weights and squatting slightly below parallel. Keep increasing the weight a little every session for a couple of months. Then, please, get back to us and tell us more about how weights cannot give you balance.

  192. I think the photo and subhead are misleading. It sounds like the study says in order to lose weight, you should do aerobic exercise and lift weights--but not necessarily at the same time. Yet the photo and subhead suggest that we should all grab our 5-pound weights and stroll around the neighborhood. Not accurate, as far as I can tell.

  193. The researchers apparently consider "overweight" as "normal" per this from the article: "The researchers gathered the answers from 1,677,108 of the survey participants and started categorizing them, first, as either normal weight or obese,..". Perhaps this sorting says the most about how serious a health risk obesity has become.

  194. Unfortunately, the BMI isn't always great way to calculate obesity. I'm in my mid-fifties, have DEXA measured body fat of 18.4%, and my BMI is 30.1 which qualifies as obese.

  195. @Ross On what calculation table are you determining your BMI?

  196. I am a two time breast cancer survivor, 17 years apart. My second diagnosis came when I was 62 years old. I'm turning 69 this year. After my recovery I made my health my #1 priority. I joined a gym, I lift weights 2-3 times per week and do Zumba 5 days a week and Pilates one day a week. I lost 38 pounds in my first year of this life style change and have managed to keep it off which is always the hardest part, it's been 6 years. My vitals are all better and so is my mood. I like to feel that my exercise and eating habits are giving me a little more control over my life. It's nice to have an outlook that looks to the future instead of looking over my shoulder waiting for the next shoe to drop.

  197. So often when the Times articles that discuss weightlifting are illustrated with pictures of people using brightly-colored 2lb dumb bells. Not only this one but also the "Keeping Aging Muscles Fit Is Tied to Better Heart Health Later" article linked to at the bottom of the page. That's not resistance training, people! The body doesn't want to change; if you want to make it adapt, you have to challenge it. That means you have to lift weights that are heavy enough to be difficult for you, and then you have to try to lift more next time. But pictures of barbells and metal weights are scary, so let's keep misinforming people I guess.

  198. Take a four or five pound weight in each hand and run four miles at a brisk pace. Then tell me if that is real exercise or not.

  199. @Suburban Cowboy Oh, it's exercise. Lots of things are. But it isn't "lifting weights."

  200. @Suburban Cowboy Actually, it's not such a good idea because it messes with your gait. It's better to separate the two or wear a weighted vest to distribute the weight.

  201. The photo of two people walking with light weights, probably a stock photo, is problematic and misleading. Strength training is a separate activity that requires you to work ALL of your major muscles. Walking with weights in your hands is promoting a poor prescription for building and maintaining total body strength and it’s an unnatural way to walk!

  202. @Suzi Wojdyslawski Thx, beat me to it. Best to let arms swing naturally with each stride. Use whole body to walk.

  203. The reason both exercise and diet are critical is that they are self-reinforcing. If you exercise a lot and get into a mind-set of taking care of your body, you'll also want to avoid putting junk in it. Burning 400-500 calories each day will also allow you to not have to starve yourself in order to lose weight at a slow rate- you can eat a wide range of stuff you enjoy, as long as you keep carbs to mostly fruit and veggies, and keep dessert to tiny portions for special celebrations. Without the 400-500 calorie cushion provided by exercise you're stuck trying to fight on one front with evolution fighting you back every step of the way in a society filled with unhealthy options. The other reason is that when you join a gym you're going to meet people and interact with other humans with a similar value system when it comes to health. It's all a reinforcing set of positive feedback loops you're not going to get joining weight watchers. I'd like to see a Democratic candidate propose a program to channel national security money away from the stupid wall to help low income people eat better and join gyms, and set up non-profit community exercise facilities. That will more than pay for itself in reduced Medicare and Medicaid spending and is at least as important as buying more bombers and fighters.

  204. @Eb Oooh, that's socialism. And the following republican president will undo it. No matter how good it would be for the people, society, the economy...

  205. I have no doubt that people who do aerobic exercise and weight or resistance training are less likely to be obese. My guess is that such people are very health-conscious and do countless other things to maintain a healthy weight. I believe any study that concludes we should get up off the couch and move is beneficial. But I doubt that obesity will be reversed by just combining these two types of activities. It’s the 100 other things that non-obese people do that will make a large difference.

  206. I regularly go on what I call a "push-up walk." It takes me about 33 minutes to walk two miles, stopping every two minutes to drop for 15 push-ups for a total of 225. If I feel motivated, I go three miles and adjust the push-ups to get to 300 in about 48 minutes. I don't lose weight, but I also don't gain any, and I do maintain my upper body strength fairly well. I'm sure if I dialed back on the booze, I'd drop weight. ;-)

  207. I just want to mention this, since I didn't see any other references in the comments I read: resistance bands. They're cheaper and more practical than free weights, you don't have to keep buying heavier ones as you progress (want to move up from 50 lbs to 60 lbs? Just add that 10 lb band you started with), and you can easily squirrel them away out of sight (but hopefully not out of mind). Maybe a purist will say they're inferior to weights for some reason, but don't let perfect be the enemy of good.

  208. I was a gym rat, free weights, years ago Now I am in my 60s and hate gyms for many reasons but I exercise daily in part, to deal with the lingering effect of injuries that occurred in my gym days and just the effects if aging. I do a half hour of floor work, yoga and traditional exercises like pushups combined with the mandated excercises that I learned in physical therapy in the 90s for a serious back injury. 5 nights a week, I do a half hour of low impact aerobics, 2 sessions are with handheld weights, 3 lbs. I rotate several DVD programs by Jessica Smith which feature her mother who is a bit younger than I am. These sessons are followed by another 20 to 25 minute physical therapy DVD for the pelvic floor and lower core,rotating 2 programs. Yes, it takes time and effort but if I don't exercise daily the reduced mobility and increased pain are immediate. I chose to live a relatively pain free life where I can do most things I want to and avoid surgery as I have for almost 30 years. As my mother used to say, pay your penny and take your choice.

  209. The combination of walking and weight training has helped me tremendously. I started exercising in my early 40’s. I lost 150 pounds with a combination of dietary changes and exercise. Kept most of it off for 15 years and started to gain back after an accident impaired my mobility. Now I’m back to regular exercising and have lost the extra weight again. I eat healthy, but I like to eat more than what I need to maintain a healthy weight if I lead a sedentary lifestyle ( even temporarily). I’m glad that I’m able to exercise again. I do some walking and/or dancing every day. I do interval training on a treadmill and bike, take lots of outdoor walks, and weight train usually 2 times a week, sometimes 3. I feel great and have lots of energy to put towards maintaining my home and yard now that I’m in my early 60’s. It’s been an excellent combination for me.

  210. I'm 79 and do both, strenuously. My weight's great: 5'10", 148 pounds, and muscular. One factor not considered in the article is that people who make it their business to workout may follow healthy activities in other areas, like what they put in their mouths, i.e. food and nutrition. For example, they may reduce added sugars, salts, red meats, animal fats, and processed food. They may eliminate some of them completely, like added sugars and processed "food". Joseph in Missoula

  211. @Joseph This is great, Joseph! It's just what I'm shooting for. I was exactly 148 for the running season last year. Unfortunately, I shrunk 3/4" so I'm not 5'10" anymore, but close. I also workout vigorously and eat healthily. It makes me feel my best, everyday. I want to emulate what you're doing when I hit my 70s. Sounds like a great lifestyle!

  212. Add to this fasting and extra fiber and probiotics. Fax sting less calories but more important cell repair. Bacteria control lots of our metabolism and "good" guys reduce calorie absorption and"bad" guys opposite. Exercise, using intervals, fasting 2 days a week, lots of fiber and plants and less meat and sugar, See letswakeupfolks .blogspot.com for complete discussion of these.

  213. Want to lose weight and keep it off? Count every calorie you put in your body with the same device you're probably using to read this article or check Twitter every hour (if you have time for that, then...). Excercise has so many benefits that have nothing to do with weight loss. Eat right, track it as anything else that's important to you, and exercise to keep your mind and body in sync.

  214. @Ryan That actually doesn't work for everyone. There are health disorders (hypothroidism, for example), that mess with metabolism and counting calories, even limiting them strictly, doesn't take the weight off. I'm not saying this as someone that doesn't exercise or is obese, but I can say that I've completed 108 marathons and ultra-marathons and many shorter races in the past 10 years, train daily for those races, weight train twice a week, row-cycle-nordic ski-snowshoe-rebound randomly throughout the week, eat a very healthy diet, and count calories religiously using a phone app, and I find it impossible to lose a pound when I want to.

  215. One good reason to mix aerobic and resistance training is that studies show resistance training alone can hasten hardening of arteries. Adding a moderate amount of cardio mitigates that. So both types of exercise are very complementary. One nuance not mentioned in that studies also show for maximal benefit it is best to do cardio AFTER the resistance training, rather than before, and even better if you can wait at least six hours after the resistance training to do the cardio. But however you do it, adding in at least a bit of cardio is a very good idea. I do a HIIT session (20 mins) on the "off" days between resistance training sessions. I also watch what I eat. Move, eat well, eat less (and eating well makes it much easier to eat less), lose weight, be healthy and strong. It's not rocket science!

  216. @Abraham "Studies show"? Name one peer-reviewed study by a respected research that shows weight training alone hastens "hardening of the arteries". Doesn't exist. Also, the gist of the article is to COMBINE the two, i.e. rowing machine, burpies, etc. And your HITT training most likely is utilizing your body weight, which IS resistance training. You might want to lay off giving PT advice.

  217. @Jeff E.g., https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/01.CIR.0000146380.08401.99 This is not a new or controversial result. A google search "resistance training arteries" will turn up many other published studies in the peer-reviewed literature. Basic courtesy would suggest doing such a search before calling someone out as either misinformed or a liar. And HIIT is aerobic, because it results in aerobic glycolysis. Resistance training primarily uses the phosphagenic and anaerobic metabolic pathways to produce ATP. If you don't know what the three basic metabolic pathways for energy (ATP) production are, google is again your friend. Good luck with your exercise program, whatever you base it on.

  218. @Jeff E.g., https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/01.CIR.0000146380.08401.99 This is not a new or controversial result. A google search "resistance training arteries" will turn up many other published studies in the peer-reviewed literature. Basic courtesy would suggest doing such a search before calling someone out as either misinformed or a liar. And HIIT is aerobic, because it results in aerobic glycolysis. Resistance training primarily uses the phosphagenic and anaerobic metabolic pathways to produce ATP. If you don't know what the three basic metabolic pathways for energy (ATP) production are, google is again your friend. Good luck with your exercise program, whatever you base it on.