High Impact Exercise Proves Most Effective for Shedding Pounds


It seems simple enough: Exercise to lose weight. However, a new study shows that some workouts have the upper hand when it comes to weight loss. According to the study, one type of workout can help people drop pounds much more effectively.

According to research published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Fitness, the best workout to lose weight is a high impact program that utilizes aerobics and movements that require jumping, elevating heart rate to its peak. In comparison, the participants taking part in a low impact aerobics program experienced less weight loss and loss of body fat.

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To measure the effects of these different types of workouts on body composition, researchers from the Institute of Sports and Physical Education and the Department of Physical Education at King Faisal University selected 32 women to track over 24 weeks. The women were split into two groups, with half performing high intensity exercise and the other half engaging in low impact aerobics and strength training. The women in the study were all classified as either overweight or obese, according to their body mass index (BMI).

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The high impact exercise regimen included four classes a week, with workouts lasting one hour. The hour included a five to 10 minute warm up, followed by 40 minutes of high intensity training, and another five to 10 minutes of cooling down. The high impact exercise portion of the workout involved plyometrics movements which require both feet to leave the ground at the same time. Jump squats, burpees and other total body moves of this nature were utilized over the 40 minute period to elevate the heart rate to approximately 85 percent of the individual’s maximum heart rate.

For the low impact exercise program, the participants also worked out four times a week, with classes lasting one hour in length. However, the structure of the workout was much lower in intensity, with strength training exercises combined with cardiovascular movements. These “rhythmic” movements mimicked a traditional step class. The cardio portion lasted a total of 30 minutes, with the remaining time involving strength training exercises such as bicep curls, bench presses and other lifts. The strength training portion involved heavy weights, pushing the women to lift 60 to 80 percent of their one rep max.

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After 24 weeks of following these programs, it was found that the women who partook in the high impact exercise program lost more body fat and weight in general than the other group. While both groups did experience a positive change in body composition, the high intensity group lost, on average, 10 pounds, compared to an average of six pounds in the other group. Fat mass was reduced by seven percent and three percent in the high and low impact group, respectively.

The benefits of exercise exist no matter the type of workout, but in order to lose weight in an overweight or obese population, high impact exercises can be more beneficial. It is recommended by many personal trainers to include both types of exercise in a routine to reap the benefits of both.