This viewpoint debates the state-of-the-art research focusing on the optimal intensity of the exercise programs for inducing a sustained weight or fat-mass loss in overweight/obese people. In our demanding society, the most attractive messages in the popular press are those promising the best results in a short time. This might explain the emphasis given by media to those scientific articles that report the efficacy on weight loss of exercise programs by their shorter duration and higher intensity.
However, in the literature on overweight or obese people, there is little conclusive evidence for more favorable effects with high-intensity training than with continuous moderate-intensity exercise on body weight or fat mass loss. Since both exercise protocols have been demonstrated as useful to reduce body weight, the decision on the intensity of exercise prescription should be individualized and based on outcomes different from fat or weight loss. In this regard, there are pro and contra arguments for the prescription of high-intensity aerobic exercise in obese people. Among the pro arguments, is the demonstration that, in several studies, high-intensity training appears to induce superior improvements in aerobic fitness. Among the contra arguments to prescribe high-intensity exercise is the demonstration that prescribing a higher-intensity exercise decreases adherence and results in the completion of less exercise. Thus, a successful exercise program should be proposed at a moderate intensity and a low perceived effort because obese subjects who have low self-efficacy, poor mood status, and are not familiar with high-intensity workouts could easily drop out.
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