According to a study, strength training is better than cardio training for older people wanting to lose some weight. The study suggests that weight training combined with a low-calorie diet helps to preserve the lean muscle mass which could be lost with aerobic training. Many older people will choose walking as their exercise. But this study shows that weight training could be a better option if you’re concerned about muscle loss.
Calorie restriction combined with resistance training making use of weight-machines resulted in less muscle loss with considerable fat loss in comparison to weight loss and walking or weight loss on its own. For the study which lasted for 18 months, 249 obese or overweight participants in their 60s were assigned to 1 of 3 groups: a group with a low-calorie diet and without any exercise; a group with a low-calorie diet and walking; and a group with a low-calorie diet and weight training.
Weight loss is the general recommendation for obese and overweight people, but losing fat and preserving muscle is especially important for older people for maximizing functional benefit given the physical disability risk in the increasing population of older people. The researchers revealed that cardio exercise could in fact result in older obese people losing more lean mass compared to just dieting.
The study results:
- Total fat loss was significantly higher when individuals combined diet with walking and diet plus weight training, 16 pounds and 17 pounds respectively. Diet on its own resulted in about 10 pounds of fat lost over 18 months.
- Loss of muscle mass was highest with diet and walking in comparison to diet on its own or diet with weight training, 4 pounds and 2 pounds respectively. In other words, muscle mass weight loss was 20% in the walking group, 16% in the weight loss on its own group, and 10% in the weight training group.
- Fat loss was linked to quicker walking speeds, while muscle loss was linked to reduced strength of the knee.
The results are even more significant for older people who are frequently gaining and losing weight, as older people typically regain fat mass and not muscle, which is why it’s important for them to preserve muscle mass when losing weight.