Strength training versus aerobic interval training to modify risk factors of metabolic syndrome

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2010 Apr;108(4):804-10. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00996.2009. Epub 2010 Jan 21.


Metabolic syndrome is characterized by central obesity, elevated blood pressure, high fasting glucose and triglyceride levels, and low HDL levels. Regular physical activity can improve the metabolic profile and reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases and premature mortality. However, the optimal training regime to treat metabolic syndrome and its associated cardiovascular abnormalities remains undefined. Forty-three participants with metabolic syndrome were randomized to one of the following groups: aerobic interval training (AIT; n = 11), strength training (ST; n = 11), a combination of AIT and ST (COM; n = 10) 3 times/wk for 12 wk, or control (n = 11). Risk factors comprising metabolic syndrome were evaluated before and after the intervention. Waist circumference (in cm) was significantly reduced after AIT [95% confidence interval (CI): -2.5 to -0.04], COM (95% CI: -2.11 to -0.63), and ST (95% CI: -2.68 to -0.84), whereas the control group had an increase in waist circumference (95% CI: 0.37-2.9). The AIT and COM groups had 11% and 10% increases in peak O2 uptake, respectively. There were 45% and 31% increases in maximal strength after ST and COM, respectively. Endothelial function, measured as flow-mediated dilatation (in %), was improved after AIT (95% CI: 0.3-3), COM (95% CI: 0.3-3), and ST (95% CI: 1.5-4.5). There were no changes in body weight, fasting plasma glucose, or HDL levels within or between the groups. In conclusion, all three training regimes have beneficial effects on physiological abnormalities associated with metabolic syndrome.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Basal Metabolism
  • Blood Chemical Analysis
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Brachial Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Brachial Artery / physiology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Metabolic Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Quality of Life
  • Resistance Training*
  • Risk Factors
  • Ultrasonography
  • Vasodilation / physiology
  • Waist Circumference