A study conducted by researchers at Wake Forest University, reports that a combination of strength training with a low-calorie diet is much more useful than simple aerobic exercise. This is due to the fact that during weight training with exercise the body maintains and builds up the necessary muscle mass.
"A lot of older adults will walk as their exercise of choice," said Kristen Beavers, assistant professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest and lead author of the study. "But this research shows that if you’re worried about losing muscle, weight training can be the better option."
In this 18-month study, consisting of 249 adults aged 60 years, overweight or obese, the calorie restriction, combined with strength training, resulted in a reduction in muscle loss and a significant loss of fat.
Weight loss is usually recommended for obese people. And retaining muscle with fat loss is especially important for the elderly in order to maximize functional benefits, Bobs said.
"Surprisingly, we found that cardio workouts may actually cause older adults with obesity to lose more lean mass than dieting alone."
Loss of muscle mass can have important consequences, given the high risk of disability among the elderly.
These results can be even more important for the elderly who periodically gain and lose weight, because the elderly usually do not repair the muscles - they restore the fat mass, which is "the more reason for the elderly to try to keep the muscle mass during the loss weight", - said Bobrs.