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Isolated Aerobic Exercise and Weight Loss: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

  • Adrian Thorogood
    Affiliations
    Divisions of Cardiology and Clinical Epidemiology, Jewish General Hospital/McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Salvatore Mottillo
    Affiliations
    Divisions of Cardiology and Clinical Epidemiology, Jewish General Hospital/McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Avi Shimony
    Affiliations
    Divisions of Cardiology and Clinical Epidemiology, Jewish General Hospital/McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Kristian B. Filion
    Affiliations
    Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn
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  • Lawrence Joseph
    Affiliations
    Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    Division of Clinical Epidemiology, McGill University Health Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Jacques Genest
    Affiliations
    Division of Cardiology, McGill University Health Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Louise Pilote
    Affiliations
    Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    Division of Clinical Epidemiology, McGill University Health Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    Division of Internal Medicine, McGill University Health Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Paul Poirier
    Affiliations
    Faculty of Pharmacy, Laval Hospital, Quebec Heart and Lung Institute, Quebec, Quebec, Canada
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  • Ernesto L. Schiffrin
    Affiliations
    Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    Department of Medicine, Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • Mark J. Eisenberg
    Correspondence
    Requests for reprints should be addressed to Mark J. Eisenberg, MD, MPH, Divisions of Cardiology and Clinical Epidemiology, Jewish General Hospital/McGill University, 3755 Rue Cote Ste. Catherine, Suite H-421, Montreal, QC H3T 1E2, Canada
    Affiliations
    Divisions of Cardiology and Clinical Epidemiology, Jewish General Hospital/McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Jewish General Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    Search for articles by this author

      Abstract

      Background

      Aerobic exercise is a common nonpharmacological intervention for the management of obesity. However, the efficacy of isolated aerobic exercise at promoting weight loss is unclear. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the efficacy of isolated aerobic exercise programs in overweight and obese populations.

      Methods

      We searched for published randomized controlled trial reports of aerobic exercise through January 20, 2010. Trials with an isolated aerobic exercise intervention were included. A random-effect model was used to synthesize the results of each intervention.

      Results

      We identified 14 trials involving 1847 patients. The duration of aerobic exercise programs ranged from 12 weeks to 12 months. Results were pooled for programs with 6-month duration and programs with 12-month duration. Six-month programs were associated with a modest reduction in weight (weighted mean difference [WMD]=−1.6 kg; 95% confidence interval [CI], −1.64 to −1.56) and waist circumference (WMD=−2.12 cm; 95% CI, −2.81 to −1.44). Twelve-month programs also were associated with modest reductions in weight (WMD=−1.7 kg; 95% CI, −2.29 to −1.11) and waist circumference (WMD=−1.95 cm; 95% CI, −3.62 to −0.29).

      Conclusion

      Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise programs of 6-12 months induce a modest reduction in weight and waist circumference in overweight and obese populations. Our results show that isolated aerobic exercise is not an effective weight loss therapy in these patients. Isolated aerobic exercise provides modest benefits to blood pressure and lipid levels and may still be an effective weight loss therapy in conjunction with diets.

      Keywords

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