One constant as we enter the new year will be the validation of exercise-science research showing the beneficial effects of exercise on the human body.
A study conducted at East Tennessee State University more than a decade ago demonstrated that combining aerobic exercise and strength training over a four-month period increased bone density and lean muscle mass significantly compared to the aerobic exercise group only.
The classic study done by Izumi Tabata et al. in 1996 showed for the first time that both aerobic/anaerobic benefits were possible with high intensity interval training. After using his protocol five days a week for 6 weeks aerobic capacity improved 14% while anaerobic capacity improved by 28%. A traditional study over the same 6 week period – running at 70% of aerobic capacity for 60 minutes – showed an increase in aerobic capacity (9.5%) but no effect on anaerobic capacity.
In a recent comprehensive research review, Donnelly and colleagues note that the majority of peer-reviewed resistance training studies (lasting 8–52 weeks) show increases of 2.2–4.5 lb of muscle mass. These researchers suggest that an increase of 4.5 lb of muscle mass would probably increase resting metabolic rate by about 50 kcal per day. Although this small change is not nearly as much as some advertisers may suggest, it does help close the gap between energy intake and energy expenditure.
Even though bone rebuilding naturally slows as we age, research from Nelson and colleagues has shown that regular strength training can increase rebuilding. Exercise causes the muscle to contract and the muscle tendon pulls on the bone. This action stresses or stimulates the bone, spurring the bone to become stronger and denser.
Tabata I, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, Hirai Y, Ogita F, Miyachi M, Yamamoto K. (1996). Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 28(10):1327-30.
Donnelly, J.E., et al. (2003). Is resistance training effective for weight management? Evidence-Based Preventive Medicine, 1(1): 21–29.
Nelson ME, Fiatarone MA, Morganti CM, Trice I, Greenberg RA, Evans WJ. (1994). Effects of high-intensity strength training on multiple risk factors for osteoporotic fractures. Journal of the American Medical Association. 272(24):1909-14.