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Resistance Exercise: a less painful start for losing weight and fighting obesity for those with low aerobic capacity

  • 6/17/2014 9:53:00 AM
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Resistance Exercise: a less painful start for losing weight and fighting obesity for those with low aerobic capacity

Vincent C.W. Chen,  B.S.

Have you been unable to meet an exercise goal but couldn’t last even a short time? Is there another way to start a fat-burning exercise program without painful, frustrating feelings?

Well-documented, obesity has become a major problem in the United States. Exercise has been recognized to be an efficient way to lose fat and keep fit. Endurance exercise burns fat to provide the needed energy. Furthermore, the more you exercise, the better your fat-burning capacity.  However, endurance exercise requires a single long period of exercise, more than 30 minutes, to reach the aerobic goal. Some people, especially the overweight and obese, have limited aerobic capacity, so they fatigue quickly and cannot exercise to the aerobic goal. The aerobic limitations not only physically reduce exercise ability but often bring frustration and other obstacles

Unlike endurance exercise, resistance exercise (such as weight lifting) is a short-period exercise that does not require prolonged time. For those who fatigue quickly, resistance exercise is less painful to perform. You may wonder whether resistance exercise burn fat and improve aerobic capacity. A new study conducted at Texas A&M University has shown that PPAR-delta, a protein that promotes lipid use for energy in skeletal muscle, increases following resistance exercise training in both lean and obese rats. This result indicates that resistance exercise training may encourage your body to burn fat as fuel. Furthermore, other studies have shown that resistance exercise increases oxidative potential, which refers to the ability of lipid use. So, the answer appears to be is yes, resistance exercise training may make you burn fat and improve aerobic capacity.

Therefore, even without good aerobic capacity, overweight and obese people can start resistance exercise and see improvement in reaching exercise goals. This improvement can build confidence and lead to progress with endurance exercise and fat burning. This does not only apply to overweight and obese people but also those with poor aerobic capacity who want to increase fitness; for example, those with sedentary occupations.


Although it has been proven that resistance exercise improves muscle oxidative potential, we still do not have a firm understanding of how it works. PPAR-delta, an important mediator of fatty acid oxidation in skeletal muscle, may be the key. If so, health promotion professionals will be able to design more practical exercise programs for the target population.



  1. Brunmair, B et al. 2006. “Activation of PPAR-delta in isolated rat skeletal muscle switches fuel preference from glucose to fatty acids.” Diabetologia 49(11): 2713-2722.
  2. Hawley, John A, and John O Holloszy. 2009. “Exercise: it’s the real thing!” Nutrition Reviews 67(3): 172-178.
  3. Tang, Jason E., Joseph W. Hartman, and Stuart M. Phillips. 2006. “Increased muscle oxidative potential following resistance training induced fibre hypertrophy in young men.” Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 31(5): 495-501.



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