Strength training beats cardio for the elderly

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Weight training or cardio? For older people who are trying to lose weight, pumping up iron might be the way to go.

A new study by researchers at Wake Forest University suggests that combining weight training with a low-calorie diet preserves much-needed lean muscle mass that can be lost through aerobic workouts.

The findings, “Effect of Type of Exercise During Intentional Weight Loss on Body Composition in Older People with Obesity,” appear in the November issue of the journal. Obesity.

“A lot of older people will make walking their exercise of choice,” said Kristen Beavers, assistant professor of health and exercise sciences at Wake Forest and lead author of the study. “But this research shows that if you’re worried about losing muscle, weight training may be the best option.”

In this 18-month study of 249 adults in their 60s who were overweight or obese, calorie restriction and resistance training in the form of resistance training resulted in less muscle loss, but fat loss. significant, compared to weight loss plus walking or weight loss alone.

Losing weight is generally recommended for obese people, but preserving muscle – while losing fat – is especially important for older people to maximize functional benefits, Beavers said.

“Surprisingly, we found that cardio workouts can actually cause older obese people to lose more lean mass than dieting alone. “

The loss of lean mass could have significant consequences given the high risk of physical disability among the growing elderly population.

The results:

+ Total fat loss was much greater when participants combined diet plus walking (around 16 pounds) and diet plus weight training (around 17 pounds). The diet alone resulted in about 10 pounds of fat loss in 18 months.

+ The loss of muscle mass was greatest with diet plus walking (about 4 pounds) compared to diet alone or diet plus weight training (each about 2 pounds). In other words, the percentage of weight loss from muscle mass was 20% in the weight loss plus walking group, 16% in the weight loss alone group, and 10% in the weight loss plus bodybuilding group. .

+ Fat loss was associated with faster walking speed, while muscle loss was associated with reduced knee strength.

These results may be even more important for older people who gain and lose weight frequently, because older people usually don’t gain muscle – they regain body fat – which is “one more reason for the elderly. to try and preserve muscle mass during weight loss, ”Beavers said.

This is the latest study from the Cooperative Lifestyle Intervention Program (CLIP-II), a single-blind, randomized controlled trial. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: a weight loss-only group, who followed a low-calorie diet without an exercise program; a weight loss plus cardio group (i.e. walking); and a weight loss and strength training group.

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Materials provided by Wake Forest University. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.

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