Older women who strength train with weights can lose significant amounts of abdominal fat, according to researchers published in a recent issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Twelve women and 14 men between 61 and 77 years old participated in a strength training program three times a week for six months. During each training session, the study participants completed two sets of 10 repetitions of several strength-training exercises. Before and after the study began, the participants completed strength tests and underwent body composition testing, which measured their bone density, muscle mass and fat mass. Although both men and women increased their strength, increased muscle mass and decreased body fat levels as the result of the training, women lost significantly more abdominal fat than the men.
Abdominal fat is a risk factor for heart attacks and other heart problems, so it's a good idea to reduce waist circumference and abdominal fat if you're overweight or obese. Despite popular opinion, it's impossible to spot reduce, which is why just doing sit-ups and crunches won't help you lose belly fat. Instead, reduce your caloric intake, get plenty of calorie-burning aerobic exercise and try strength training to increase bone density and add muscle mass. Before beginning an exercise program, though, it's a good idea to consult with your physician or health care provider.
Senior Care |
Sources: Hunter GR, Bryan DR, Wetzstein CJ, Zuckerman PA, Bamman MM. Resistance training and intra-abdominal adipose tissue in older men and women. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2002 Jun;34(6):1023-8.