weight training beats aerobic exercise for weight loss and muscle mass in seniors

You know that exercise is an important part of losing weight. But, you might be very surprised what kind of exercise works best.

249 people between 62 and 71 years of age who were either overweight or obese were put on a calorie restricted weight loss diet for 18 months. A third of them did nothing else. But another third did aerobic training and a third did weight, or resistance, training. The aerobic group worked their way up to walking moderately vigorously 4 days a week, and the weight training group did 10-12 reps of 8 exercises 4 days a week, aiming at 45 minutes of high intensity exercise per session.

You might think that the weight training would be better for building muscle but that the aerobic exercise would be better for losing weight. But the weight training was a little better for losing weight.

The diet only group lost 11 pounds. Aerobic exercise improved the results: people who dieted and did the walking exercise lost 15 pounds. But, the people in the weight training group lost 17 pounds.

And the superiority of weight training may be even better than it sounds. Weight loss can come from muscle or from fat. While weight loss from fat leads to improved fitness, weight loss from muscle leads to a reduction in strength. So, you want to lose weight from fat, not from muscle. But the aerobic group lost 4 pounds of muscle mass while the diet group and the diet plus weight training group lost a significantly less 2 pounds of muscle mass.

So, seniors wanting to get in shape may achieve even better weight loss from weights than from aerobic exercise while maintaining more lean muscle mass and strength. For seniors, preserving lean muscle mass while losing weight from fat is crucial for health.


Obesity 2017;doi:10.1002/oby.21977


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