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Alan C. Utter, David C. Nieman, Elizabeth M. Shannonhouse, Diane E. Butterworth and Cathy N. Nieman

The purpose of this study was to measure the influence of diet, exercise, or both on body composition and cardiorespiratory fitness in obese women. Ninety-one obese subjects were randomized into one of four groups: diet (D) (4.19–5.44 MJ or 1,200–1,300 kcal/day), exercise (E) (five 45-min sessions at 78.5 ± 0.5% maximum heart rate), exercise and diet (ED), and controls (C). Maximal aerobic power and body composition were measured in all subjects before and after a 12-week diet intervention period. Subjects in D and ED lost 7.8 ± 0.7 and 8.1 ± 0.6 kg body mass, with no significant change for E relative to C. Losses of percent body fat and fat mass were significantly greater in D and ED but not in E relative to C. The change in VO2max was greater in ED and E but not D when compared to C. Results indicate that moderate aerobic exercise training during a 12-week period has no discernible effects on body composition but does improve cardiorespiratory fitness in dieting obese women.