A meta-analysis of the factors affecting exercise-induced changes in body mass, fat mass and fat-free mass in males and females

Int J Obes. 1991 Nov;15(11):717-26.


A meta-analysis was performed to assess the effects of type, duration and frequency of exercise training on changes in body mass (BM), fat mass (FM), fat-free mass (FFM) and percent body fat (percent fat) both for adult males and females. Weight loss following aerobic type exercise training, though modest, was greater for males. Stepwise regression suggests that, both for males and females, energy expended during exercise and initial body fat levels (or body mass) account for most of the variance associated with changes in BM, FM and percent fat associated with aerobic-type exercise training. In females, weeks of training and duration of exercise per session were also significant predictors. These findings confirm earlier research in males concerning exercise training effects on body mass and body composition and extend them both to females and to a broader range of exercise types. Of particular interest in this regard is the finding that weight training exercise which is similar to aerobic exercise in facilitating body fat loss, can also preserve or increase fat-free mass.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology*
  • Bicycling
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Weight*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Regression Analysis
  • Running
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Walking
  • Weight Loss