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Myth of Aerobics

Everyone, including the USDA, thinks that the key to fat-loss is lots and lots of aerobic exercise. I’m sure you’ve thought to yourself, “if I could just get myself to do an hour or more of cardio 6 or 7 days per week, then I’d be ripped! I could take off my shirt and the ladies would be paying me to wash their clothes on my abs!”

For the record - not true! Not at all. Not even a little bit.

What Does The Research Have To Say?

The USDA came out with their recommendation to do 60-90 minutes of aerobics for fat-loss in 2005. The first ever research study on the efficacy of their advice didn’t come out until late 2007. Do you know what the study said?

Men who did moderate to vigorous (think your target heart rate zone) exercise for over 60 minutes per day, 6 days per week, for an entire year lost only 6.5lbs of body fat! That is a half pound per month, for more than 6 hours of exercise per week. (1)

So, if you had 20lbs to lose, all you’d need is 18 hours of aerobic exercise per week and you’d be set in 12 months! Do you have 18 hours-a-week to spare?

Does It Work Better Down Under?

Well maybe this exercise thing works outside of the US.  Let try Australia.  Researchers in Australia had their subjects do 40min of steady-state aerobic exercise, 3 days per week (you know, 40min in your “target heart rate zone”).  Well, they gained a pound of fat on average over the course of 15 weeks. (2)

What About Running A Marathon?

The Danish thought of this in 1989 – if 2 hours per week won’t fix ‘em, then we’ll make them run a marathon.  After a grueling 18 month training program to get their subjects ready for a marathon (26.2 MILES) here are the results:

•    The men dropped 5 pounds of body fat
•    The women dropped no body fat at all (3)

So, if you’re a man looking to drop 40 pounds, then you just need to work up to a leisurely 210mile run by quitting your job and abandoning your family.

How much more exercise (aerobic exercise) can you possible do?

Is There A Better Way?

You bet, and it actually takes less time.  Stay tuned.


1. McTiernan, Anne, et. al. Exercise Effect on Weight and Body Fat in Men and Women. Obesity (2007) 15, 1496-1512

2. Trapp EG and Boucher SH. Fat loss following 15 weeks of high intensity, intermittent cycle training. Fat Loss Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

3.  Janssen, G. M., et al.  Food intake and body composition in novice athletes during a training period to run a marathon. International journal of sports medicine, May 1989; 10(1 suppl.):s17-21

This article was provided by The Body You Want - Washington, DC Personal Fitness Training
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