For older adults struggling with obesity, it’s a bit of a catch-22 that weight loss may speed up age-related loss of muscle and bone mass (lean tissue). That could worsen physical ability and contribute to frailty. The solution? “Exercise is important to help preserve muscle and bone mass during weight loss and to further improve physical function,” says Dennis T. Villareal, MD, at Baylor College of Medicine and lead author of a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
In the study, 160 obese older adults completed a reduced-calorie weight-loss program in addition to one of three exercise programs: aerobic training, resistance (strength) training or a combination for six months. A control group received no weight-loss or exercise instruction. Each exercise group lost an average of 9% of body weight (the control group lost less than 1%). But, the combination of aerobic and resistance exercise was best at improving physical functioning while helping minimize bone and muscle loss.
To learn more: The New England Journal of Medicine, May 2017