New studies show that regular jogging is the best choice to keep weight gain at bay, especially for those predisposed to obesity.
The study, which evaluated the exercise routines of over 18,000 people between the ages of 30 and 70, and then compared these exercise logs to the genetics of the individuals, shows that jogging helps stave off obesity more efficiently than other forms of exercise.
Unlike previous exercise-related weight-loss studies, the researchers behind this study used five different measures for obesity, including body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, and waist-to-hip-ratio to determine which exercises are the most effective at managing and preventing weight gain. The majority of earlier research looked solely at BMI, which is a measure for obesity and is falling out of favor with many healthcare providers.
Also ranking in the top five forms of exercise to lose weight were mountain climbing, walking (including power walking), certain types of dance, and long yoga practices. The four exercises that proved to be the least effective for weight loss? Cycling, stretching, swimming, and Dance Dance Revolution, the cult classic video game that encourages people to move to choreographed steps.
The study showed that jogging keeps the heart rate in a low-end heart rate zone, which is considered the ‘fat burning’ zone. This means that the body uses fat as its primary fuel source to maintain the heart rate at this zone. As one increases their rate of exertion, increases resistance or speed, they move into higher heart rate zones, which utilize glycogen or sugar for fuel. A person with obesity has a much higher fat to muscle ratio, therefore making it easier to utilize fat for fuel.
The other exercises highlighted by the researchers burn more calories to do them because they are harder to perform. The more calories burned, the faster the weight comes off. The exercises that were not found to be as effective do not require the use of body mass for exercise, which probably explains the lack of results. For instance, in cycling, the body is a bit unweighted because you are sitting, in comparison to jogging, and it does not require as much total body energy as jogging does. Thus it does not put the same amount of strain on the cardiovascular and biomechanical system.
For people who are unsure how or where to begin, experts recommend starting with walking and adding some resistance training to build leg muscles before starting to jog. A combination of jogging and walking, at a pace that is comfortable for you, may help you ease into it. The jog/walk strategy can be tailored to the person depending on their discomfort, as well as using a heart rate monitor to ensure that the heart rate is not spiking during the jog portion. Any combination would be fine as long as you stay within your respective low heart rate zones.