Queen's University

Combined exercise improves obese seniors' health, experts say

 
2009-01-28

Ninety minutes of aerobic exercise combined with 60 minutes of resistance exercise performed across three days each week can have a big impact on the health of older, obese adults, Queen’s researchers have discovered.

The new study is co-authored by PhD graduate Lance Davidson (now pursuing post-doctoral studies at Columbia University) and professor of Kinesiology and Health Studies Robert Ross, director of the university’s Centre for Obesity Research and Education (CORE). The researchers found that seniors with several trademarks of developing disease – including a waist circumference of 40 inches in men or 35 inches in women –  who trained both aerobically and with weights made significant health gains compared to control groups.

People who trained aerobically lost abdominal fat, maintained muscle and became over 30 per cent more insulin sensitive (less prone to developing diabetes). Those who lifted weights gained significant amounts of muscle and excelled in physical function tests in which poor performance would indicate disability. Seniors who did both treadmill and weightlifting three times a week showed the greatest gains in both insulin sensitivity and functional fitness.

“Granted, the participants had a dedicated crew of energetic Queen’s students and graduates to motivate and encourage them, but these seniors did all the exercise themselves,” Dr. Davidson says. “Thanks to their efforts, the message that moderate exercise – even without dietary modification – reverses age-related disease or disability can now be disseminated to clinicians and health-care professionals.”

The five-year study was completed with the help of Hotel Dieu and Kingston General Hospitals. “As a recent graduate of the School of Kinesiology and Health, I owe a debt of gratitude to Queen’s University administration and staff who fully supported this project, and many thanks to our collaborators at the Hotel Dieu and KGH.”

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