In a recent study, researchers found that participants who engaged in a regular weight training routine while cutting calories, lost more body fat and preserved more muscle than the calorie cutting and walking group, as well as the calorie-reduction only group. The study consisted of 249 participants who were 60 years or older, and overweight or obese, and sedentary. It included both men and women, and Caucasian and African-American participants. They were separated into three groups: The first group only reduced their caloric intake by 300 calories per day. The second group engaged in brisk walking for 45 minutes, 4 days per week in addition to reducing caloric intake. The third group lifted weights with a personal trainer, 4 days per week, also cutting calories.
After 18 months, there were remarkable differences between each of the groups. The calorie-reduction only group lost an average of 12lbs each, two of which were muscle mass. The calorie-reduction and walking group lost an average of 20lbs, four pounds of which were muscle. The last group, which reduced calories and engaged in weight training, also lost 20lbs. But only two of those pounds were muscle loss. Although the walking group lost more muscle mass than the sedentary group, at the end of the study, the walking group had increased the strength in their legs, while the sedentary group showed no strength increase.
The results of this study suggest that aging adults who need to reduce their weight, would best do so by engaging in regular resistance training while reducing caloric consumption to maximize muscle preservation while decreasing fat mass. In an ideal world, a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training would reap the most benefits. But if you have to choose one, weight training wins. The good news is that you don’t have to belong to a gym to do this. You can use your body weight as resistance, doing the following exercises:
- Tricep dips
- Hip raises/bridges
- Back extensions