SoJung Lee of the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and her colleagues recently showed that when obese adolescent boys increased physical activity alone, they improved several markers of health. These include reducing total fat, fat packed around organs in the abdomen (known as visceral fat, a risk factor for diabetes), and liver fat, and improving fitness of their heart and lungs.
To see if physical activity might work in the same way for obese adolescent girls, Lee and her colleagues performed a new study that compared the health effects of two different types of exercise- aerobic exercise and weight lifting- over three months to remaining sedentary.
Although their results show beneficial effects for both types of exercise, the researchers found that girls who performed aerobic exercise, but not weight lifting, had significant reductions in visceral fat and liver fat, as well as improvements in insulin sensitivity, another risk factor for diabetes that's linked with obesity.
The findings by researchers, who recruited 44 obese girls between 12 and 18 years old, suggested that for teen girls, aerobic exercise might be superior to resistance exercise for cutting health risks associated with obesity.
They also note that, anecdotally, girls in the aerobic exercise group seemed to enjoy their workouts more than those in the resistance exercise group, an opposite sentiment from the obese boys in their previous study.
The study is published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism.