Effect of Moderate Versus Vigorous Exercise Intensity on Body Composition in Young Untrained Adults: The Activating Brown Adipose Tissue Through Exercise (ACTIBATE) Randomized Controlled Trial

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Francisco J. Amaro-Gahete Department of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Sports Science, Sport and Health University Research Institute (iMUDS), Granada, Spain
CIBER de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Granada, Spain
Instituto de Investigación Biosanitaria, Granada, Spain

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María Ruiz-Ruiz Unidad gestión clínica Torredelcampo, Jaen, Spain

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Amalia Cano-Nieto Dispositivo Apoyo Granada-Zaidin Centro, Granada, Spain

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Guillermo Sanchez-Delgado Department of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Sports Science, Sport and Health University Research Institute (iMUDS), Granada, Spain
CIBER de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Granada, Spain
Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology “José Mataix,” University of Granada, Granada, Spain
Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Center de Recherche du Center Hospitalier de Sherbrooke, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada
Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA, USA

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Juan M.A. Alcantara Department of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Sports Science, Sport and Health University Research Institute (iMUDS), Granada, Spain
Department of Health Sciences, Institute for Sustainability & Food Chain Innovation, Public University of Navarre, Pamplona, Spain
Navarra Institute for Health Research, Pamplona, Spain

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Francisco M. Acosta Department of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Sports Science, Sport and Health University Research Institute (iMUDS), Granada, Spain
Turku PET Centre, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
Turku PET Centre, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland
InFLAMES Research Flagship Centre, University of Turku, Turku, Finland

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Idoia Labayen CIBER de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Granada, Spain
Department of Health Sciences, Institute for Sustainability & Food Chain Innovation, Public University of Navarre, Pamplona, Spain
Navarra Institute for Health Research, Pamplona, Spain

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Francisco B. Ortega Department of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Sports Science, Sport and Health University Research Institute (iMUDS), Granada, Spain
CIBER de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Granada, Spain
Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge, Sweden

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Jonatan R. Ruiz Department of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Sports Science, Sport and Health University Research Institute (iMUDS), Granada, Spain
CIBER de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Granada, Spain
Instituto de Investigación Biosanitaria, Granada, Spain

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The present study aimed to investigate the effect of a 24-week aerobic + resistance training programs at moderate versus vigorous intensity on body composition, and the persistence of the changes after a 10-month free-living period, in young untrained adults. This report is based on a secondary analysis from the activating brown adipose tissue through exercise (ACTIBATE) single-center unblinded randomized controlled trial. A total of 144 young adults (65.6% women) aged 18–25 years were randomly allocated to three different groups: (a) aerobic + resistance exercise training program based on the international physical activity recommendations at vigorous intensity (Ex-Vigorous group), (b) at moderate intensity (Ex-Moderate group), and (c) control group (no exercise). Body composition outcomes were determined by a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scanner. Both Ex-Vigorous and Ex-Moderate decreased body weight, fat mass, and visceral adipose tissue mass in a similar manner (all p < .04). After a 10-month free-living period, these parameters returned to baseline levels in both exercise groups (all ps < .03). No differences between the exercise groups and the control group were noted in lean mass changes (all ps > .1). A 24-week aerobic + resistance training intervention based on the international physical activity recommendations was enough to improve body weight, fat mass, and visceral adipose tissue mass in untrained young adults, independently of the exercise intensity (moderate vs. vigorous).

Supplementary Materials

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