17 May Aerobic or Resistance Exercise, or Both, in Dieting Obese Older Adults?
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dennis T. Villareal, MD
Professor of Medicine
Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism
Baylor College of Medicine
Staff Physician, Michael E DeBakey VA Medical Center
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: The prevalence of obesity in the elderly is rapidly increasing, given that the baby boomers are becoming senior citizens, but we do not know how best to manage obesity in the elderly population. Weight loss is the cornerstone of management for obesity but weight loss in the elderly is controversial because weight loss could cause not only fat loss but also muscle mass and bone mass losses, that could worsen rather than improve frailty.
We tested the hypothesis that weight loss plus exercise training, especially resistance training, would improve physical function the most compared to other types of exercise (aerobic training or combined aerobic and resistance training added to diet-induced weight loss).
Previous studies especially in younger adults have shown that combining aerobic with resistance exercise could lead to interference to the specific adaptations to each exercise, and thus less gain in strength with combined exercise compared to resistance training alone.
On the other hand, contrary to our hypothesis, we found that there was no interference between aerobic and resistance exercise, and the most effective mode to improve physical function and thus reverse frailty was in fact weight loss plus the combination of aerobic and resistance exercise, which was also associated with some preservation of muscle and bone mass.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: For the elderly complicated by obesity, it is never too late in life to change lifestyle by practicing healthy habits (diet-induced weight loss and exercise training by means of aerobic and resistance training), each one of the interventions: weight loss, aerobic training, resistance training are additive in improving physical function so the more one can do all of the three the better, although again each one of the component would produce benefits with respect to improving physical function, reversing frailty, which is likely to maintain functional independence and quality of life for as long as possible and delay institutionalization or nursing home admission.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: It would be important to do the study much longer to evaluate sustainability of the intervention and effects, as well as increase the translatability to community settings. It would be important to provide evidence that this intervention weight loss + combined aerobic and resistance exercise could prolong independence and reduce the need for institutionalization/nursing home admission, and decrease the risk of death.
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Funding for this study was provided by the National Institutes on Aging of the National Institute of Health
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