Running does not help you lose weight, but this physical activity prevents the increase in body fat in the long term.
- Fat mass was significantly lower in sprinters and long-distance runners than in strength athletes and non-exercising adults.
- Strength sports disciplines made it possible to maintain muscle mass.
- The authors recommend combining running and muscle-strengthening exercises to optimize body composition throughout life.
Does moving around in successive, accelerated movements of the legs really make you lose weight? This is the question answered by researchers from the University of Jyväskylä (Finland). As part of a study, they wanted to compare the lean mass and fat mass of male athletes doing different sports to those of non-athlete people of the same age. Thus, the team recruited 109 athletes aged 20 to 39, 147 sportspeople aged 70 to 89 as well as 147 healthy adults who did not practice physical activity.
Running prevents weight or fat gain
“Athletes were divided into sports disciplines of strength (e.g. weightlifters, powerlifters), sprint (e.g. sprint runners, jumpers) and endurance (e.g. cross-country runners, cross-country skiers),” can we read in the work published in the journal Frontiers in Sports and Active Living. Next, the scientists assessed the body composition, specifically lean mass and fat mass, of the participants.
According to the results, lifelong running, whether long-distance or repeated short-distance runs, maintains lower body fat levels than a typical lifestyle and physically active or participation in competitive strength sports. Older sprinters and endurance athletes even had lower body fat than younger strength athletes and non-exercising volunteers.
“Although we followed only men, I see no reason why our results would not also be applicable to women, particularly given the effects of menopause and other age-related effects”said Simon Walkerlead author of the study.
Body composition: combining running and muscle strengthening exercises
Another observation: strength sports disciplines made it possible to maintain muscle mass. The practitioners had better muscle mass than the sprinters and those doing long-distance running. Additionally, they had similar muscle mass to their younger counterparts.
Thus, researchers believe that a combined training approach may be most beneficial for optimizing body composition throughout life. “We know that both tissues, fat and muscle, influence overall health and work in opposite ways. So the best strategy would be to optimize both,” said Simon Walker.
The teacher suggests doing two to three endurance sessions and the same for muscle strengthening exercises, depending on your preferences, mood, motivation or taking into account seasonal variations.