There are some people who are predisposed toward obesity. And some exercises are better than others in keeping them from packing on the pounds.
A new study suggests six specific exercises that seem to be best for weight loss. Topping the list is jogging, which seems to be better than anything else for losing weight, even when you have a genetic risk for keeping the weight on.
Researchers analyzed 18,424 Han Chinese adults in Taiwan who were between 30 and 70 years old. They gathered information on five measures of obesity including body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, waist circumference, hip circumference and waist-to-hip ratio. The results were published in the journal PLOS Genetics.
"The benefits of regular physical exercise are more impactful in subjects who are more predisposed to obesity," the researchers wrote.
They investigated 18 types of exercise and found that regular jogging, which is light running for 30 minutes three times a week, was the most effective at counteracting the impact of obesity genetics across all five obesity measures.
If running isn't your thing, there's hope. Researchers found five other exercises that had a major impact when measuring BMI: mountain climbing, walking, exercise walking, some dancing (like ballroom dancing), and a long yoga session.
"Obesity is caused by genetics, lifestyle factors, and the interplay between them," study co-author, epidemiologist Wan-Yu Lin, from the National Taiwan University, told Newsweek. "While hereditary materials are inborn, lifestyle factors can be determined by oneself."
Less impactful exercises
There were some exercises that the researchers found to have no impact on the obesity gene. These include cycling, stretching, swimming, qigong (body posture exercise similar to tai chi), and the computer game "Dance Dance Revolution."
Researchers noted that cycling, stretching and qiqong usually require less energy expenditure than the six exercises that have a bigger impact on weight loss. Exercises in cold water — like swimming — can stimulate appetite and make you eat more. And because "Dance Dance Revolution" is not as formal as other types of dancing, it doesn't require as much training and effort.
Few of the participants took part in weight training, badminton, table tennis, basketball or tennis, so researchers couldn't determine if those exercises could have an impact on obesity genetics.
Also, it's worth noting that there are several limitations to the study. First, nearly all the participants were of Han Chinese descent. Because there was little diversity, it's unclear how well the results can be interpreted to other populations. Also, exercise types and times were self-reported and, as New Atlas points out, that data is often unreliable. After all, we don't always tell the truth about how much exercise we do.