Pumping iron better than cardio for older adults
Combining weight training with a low-calorie diet boosts weight loss while preserving lean muscle mass that can be lost during aerobic activity, researchers say.
The 18-month study enrolled 249 older adults (mean age, 67; 71% women) who were randomized to weight loss alone, weight loss plus aerobic training or weight loss plus resistance training. Among the findings:
- Total fat loss was significantly greater for the diet plus weight training group (about 17 pounds) and the diet plus walking group (about 16 pounds) compared to diet alone (about 10 pounds).
- Muscle mass loss was greatest with diet plus walking (20% of weight loss was due to muscle mass loss) compared with diet alone (16%) or diet plus weight training (10%).
Overall, loss of fat was associated with faster walking speed, while loss of muscle was associated with reduced knee strength.
COMMENT: “A lot of older adults will walk as their exercise of choice,” said lead author Kristen Beavers of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “But this research shows that if you’re worried about losing muscle, weight training can be the better option.”
SOURCE: Wake Forest University; Obesity (October 30, 2017)
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