When it comes to losing weight, slow down! Walk, do not run.
Researchers from Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece found that a brisk walk is better than a fast run when it comes to weight loss, although higher intensity workouts will result in more muscle mass, reports Reuters Health.
The only way you will lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume. But does the intensity of a workout make a difference in the proportion of fat and lean tissue? That is, how does a brisk walk that burns 370 calories differ from an intense run that burns the same number of calories?
The study: Fourteen women were randomly assigned to one of two exercise routines that lasted for three months. The first group exercised on a treadmill at a moderate pace four times a week, while the other group also worked out on a treadmill at a more vigorous rate four times a week. The only difference in the two routines was the speed of the workout. The duration of the workouts were set so women in both groups each burned 370 calories during their exercise time.
The results: After three months of these treadmill workouts, all the women lost weight; however, the women who were in the lower-intensity group lost more weight. This group shed on average 7 pounds, compared with the higher-intensity group that lost on average 4 pounds. It's important to note that the runners did retain more muscle mass than those who walked briskly, but they may have done this because they lost more weight. The low-intensity group lost less than half a pound in fat-free mass, while the high-intensity group gained about a pound in fat-free mass, reports Reuters.
Why did the runners lose less weight than the walkers? Lead study author Dr. Vassilis Mougios blamed it on two factors:
The intensity of their workouts led them to eat more afterwards.
The workouts were so draining that they relaxed more during their leisure time.
Remember, there is no one "magic exercise," cautions Mougios. He told Reuters Health that the greatest fitness benefits come from mixing moderate and vigorous exercise with strength training. In other words, walk, run and lift weights.
The findings were published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.