WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY STUDY
Wake Forest is my alma mater. Therefore, I pay attention to studies that emerge from this private liberal arts institution. A study by Health and Exercise Science professor Kristen Beavers was published in the November 2017 edition of the journal Obesity.
The study was entitled “Effect of Exercise Type During Intentional Weight Loss on Body Composition in Older Adults with Obesity”.
Here is that study.
Some of the findings were surprising. Here are a few of the highlights:
- 249 seniors over 60 and overweight were chosen to participate
- The study took place over 18 months
- The goals were to lose weight but to preserve muscle (since seniors need muscle for maximum functional benefit)
- Fat loss was greater when diet was combined with walking. No surprise there. 16 lbs. on average were lost
- With diet alone, fat loss was only 10 lbs. Still no surprise
- But with diet and weight training, 17 lbs. were lost, slightly more than with walking.
- Loss of muscle mass was greater with diet plus walking – 4 lbs. lost
- Muscle mass loss with either diet plus weight training or diet alone – only 2 lbs.lost
So… seniors can lose more muscle mass by walking and dieting than by only dieting. To me, that was a shocker. This is only my perception, but I believe that most seniors do far more walking than weight training.
This study doesn’t seem to precisely state this, but my conclusion is that seniors (and all other age groups) would do well to simply incorporate the following in their workout routines:
- Walking (or other cardio)
- Weight training
Why would we pit one form of exercise against another? All three are necessary. I believe that the study performs a valuable service in alerting seniors to the importance of including resistance exercise within their routines. I see many seniors walking around my neighborhood, but I suspect that they may not be as disciplined in preserving the muscle that they may be losing in their senior years.
Wait Chapel at Wake Forest is shown below. By the way, I heard Dr. Martin Luther King speak to us there in October, 1962. He gave us the forerunner of his “I Have a Dream” speech, later presented in final form in Washington, DC.
WE CAN PUMP LIGHTER IRON
I am convinced that many newcomers to resistance training are unaware of what this really entails. It is not a contest to see who can handle the heaviest weight (that is power lifting). More correctly, it is a process of progressive resistance over time. It doesn’t matter where you begin, since we start with differing strength levels. You may begin with 2 pounds or 50 lbs. for a given exercise. The key is to perform the movement slowly and correctly for the desired number of reps, then increase the weight and/or reps the next time. You will be amazed at your strength gains as you proceed.
SOURCES OF RESISTANCE
As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn from qualifying purchases. See my upper menu for more information on affiliate relationships. Here are a few vehicles for resistance, available from Amazon:
Bullworker products have been important to my workouts for several years. They are portable and lightweight, yet may challenge either newcomers or veterans. Bullworker provides the options of isotonic, isometric or isotonic/isometric exercise modes. These are products of high quality. The Bullworker Steel Bow is shown below and here is their website link.
Dick’s Sporting Goods has been my source for workout equipment and sporting goods for decades. This is a large company with many departments. Check out their inventory and current discounts below. Shop with confidence!
My conception of the ideal workout for seniors or those of any age would be that of a three-legged stool, with legs of cardio, resistance training and diet. It does not make sense to me to omit any of these essentials to better fitness.
The Wake Forest study shows us that is is wise for seniors to include the resistance training part. There are other ways to include cardio with resistance on days of snowy or otherwise inclement weather, such as:
- We could get a treadmill or other indoor device, as I have done (See Dick’s Sporting Goods)
- Or we could do our resistance band or dumbbell movements quickly, with high reps, with lighter weight and with very little rest between sets. I have done this with the result that I was both winded and “pumped” at the end
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Success in fitness training lies primarily in the realm of motivation. There is nothing difficult, expensive or especially time-consuming about a workout routine. My choice is to do a 20-30 minute workout every morning before breakfast. Then I blend a protein shake with a banana, other fruit, honey, protein powder, a couple of ice cubes and water.
There is plenty of room for individuality in the fitness lifestyle. As Nike says, “Just do it”. You will never regret that choice!
Please leave me any comments or questions in the “Comments” section below. Or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be well and stay safe!