Background: The aim of this systematic review of randomized controlled trials was to compare the effects of aerobic training (AET), resistance training (RT), and combined aerobic and resistance training (CT) on anthropometric parameters, blood lipids, and cardiorespiratory fitness in overweight and obese subjects.
Methods: Electronic searches for randomized controlled trials were performed in MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Trial Register. Inclusion criteria were: Body Mass Index: ≥25 kg/m(2), 19+ years of age, supervised exercise training, and a minimum intervention period of 8 weeks. Anthropometric outcomes, blood lipids, and cardiorespiratory fitness parameters were included. Pooled effects were calculated by inverse-variance random effect pairwise meta-analyses and Bayesian random effects network meta-analyses.
Findings: 15 trials enrolling 741 participants were included in the meta-analysis. Compared to RT, AET resulted in a significantly more pronounced reduction of body weight [mean differences (MD): -1.15 kg, p = 0.04], waist circumference [MD: -1.10 cm, p = 0.004], and fat mass [MD: -1.15 kg, p = 0.001] respectively. RT was more effective than AET in improving lean body mass [MD: 1.26 kg, p<0.00001]. When comparing CT with RT, MD in change of body weight [MD: -2.03 kg, p<0.0001], waist circumference [MD: -1.57 cm, p = 0.0002], and fat mass [MD: -1.88 kg, p<0.00001] were all in favor of CT. Results from the network meta-analyses confirmed these findings.
Conclusion: Evidence from both pairwise and network meta-analyses suggests that CT is the most efficacious means to reduce anthropometric outcomes and should be recommended in the prevention and treatment of overweight, and obesity whenever possible.