Elderly Exercise: Losing Weight Safely As We Age


RALEIGH, N.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Weight loss can be a tricky topic. While obesity poses serious health risks, slimming down may also lead to muscle and bone loss. See how researchers found adding a piece of fashion helped the elderly lose weight safely!

Joyce Jackson admits working out used to be a foreign idea to her.

“I knew that I needed to exercise but never took the time to do it,” Jackson said.

That was until the 78-year-old joined a study on exercise and weight loss at Wake Forest University.

“Thinking about exercise as a countermeasure to muscle and bone loss as an older adult loses weight, I think is very important,” shared Kristen Beavers, PhD, Assistant Professor in Health & Exercise Science at Wake Forest University.

Beavers studies the risks and benefits of weight loss in older adults.

“That’s because when people want to lose weight what they want to lose is fat, but some of what you lose is muscle and bone,” explained Beavers.

That can lead to fractures. But shedding fat also means improvements in function.

“They’re going to get out of this chair a little faster, they’re going to walk a little faster,” continued Beavers.

So, Beavers and her team came up with a clever way to incorporate resistance training into the study in the form of a weighted vest!

“These little slats right here you can actually put little weights in here,” stated Beavers.

They asked 40 seniors in the pilot study to wear the vest up to ten hours a day.

“They would just get up in the morning and put it on, wear it during their most active part of the day and then take it off,” said Beavers.

The results were pretty dramatic!

“People who wore this vest during this pilot study actually did preserve their bone especially at their hip,” Beavers told Ivanhoe.

Bob Spontak wasn’t part of the pilot study or the INVEST study but did join one where he exercised three times a week and lost 48 pounds.

“I’m more than amazed, I’m very pleased,” smiled Spontak.

Jackson worked her way up to 60 minutes on the bike three times a week!

“Start off with a little bit and you’ll see the difference,” said Jackson.

In addition to performing weight bearing exercises at least three days per week, Beavers also recommends a high-protein diet with calcium and vitamin D to minimize muscle and bone loss. Wake Forest University received a 2.9-million-dollar grant from the National Institute on Aging to expand the INVEST study. Researchers are enrolling people ages 60 to 85 years of age now. The weighted vest is available on Amazon for about $200 which Beavers points out is more cost-effective than a gym membership.

Contributors to this news report include: Janna Ross, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Kirk Manson, Videographer.


REPORT #2760

BACKGROUND: Being overweight or obese is defined as weight that is higher than what is considered a healthy weight for a given height. Body mass index, or BMI, is the screening tool used to determine overweight or obesity. Obesity affects more than 1 in 3 adults in the United States, and another 1 in 3 adults is considered to be overweight. Both conditions may increase your risk for certain health problems and may be linked to certain emotional and social problems. Health conditions like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Common treatments for losing weight include healthy eating, being physically active, and making other changes to your usual habits. If you have extreme obesity and related health problems, your doctor may consider other treatments, such as bariatric surgery.

(Source: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/defining.html and https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/adult-overweight-obesity)

EXERCISE AND SENIORS: Experts say seniors should aim to be as active as possible because exercise can help you live a longer, healthier life. It’s considered safe for most adults older than 65 years of age to exercise, and even those who have chronic illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis. Many of these conditions improve with exercise. Improvements with strength and balance are common, as well as more energy, improving your mood, and even improving cognitive function. The four areas to be covered when exercising are endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. You can cover those by walking, swimming, biking, lifting weights, using a resistance band, standing on one foot, tai chi, yoga, and stretching. Seniors age 65 and older should get at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise every week, which averages out to about 30 minutes on most days of the week.

(Source: https://familydoctor.org/exercise-seniors/)

MEMORY BOOST IN SENIORS: According to a new study, high-intensity treadmill workouts for seniors can significantly boost memory function. Researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada recruited 64 seniors between the ages of 60 and 88 for a 12 week study. The participants were split up into three experimental groups. One group did moderate treadmill exercise that pushed their heart rates up to 70-75% of their maximum for their age, another did more intense workouts which pushed heart rates up to 90-95%, but for shorter bursts of time, and the third group did gentle stretching exercises. Seniors in the high-intensity exercise group experienced significant improvement on memory tests of up to 30% after the three-month program. “The test looks at the ability to remember the details of new memories without mixing things up,” said Jennifer Heisz, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University. “I always recommend that people do what they love because that means they will be more likely to do it! It’s never too late to get the brain health benefits of being physically active,” said Heisz. An important point is that the older adults in the study were otherwise healthy, which may not be the case for many seniors.

(Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/victoriaforster/2019/11/03/high-intensity-exercise-boosts-memory-in-seniors/#2ae0c6a959ca)

* For More Information, Contact:

Kristin Beavers, PhD                                                              Kimberly McGrath, PR

beaverkm@wfu.edu                                                               mcgratka@wfu.edu

(336) 758-5855                                                                       (336) 749-0129

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