Does losing weight and exercise make a difference at the age of 70, and how much is enough?
There’s been little scientific data on how much exercise is needed or how many calories to cut. A recent study set out to define that.
The study examined obese adults with an average of 69. It was 20 weeks long and measured the impact of combining cardiovascular endurance exercise with mild and moderate restriction of calories.
Participants were divided into three groups – Group A restricted calories by 250 per day; Group B by 600 per day; and Group C was exercise only.
All groups ate pre-prepared meals and exercised under supervision four times per week. To evaluate the impact of diet and exercise on the aorta (the significant artery that leaves the heart full of freshly oxygenated blood), they used magnetic resonance to examine the speed at which blood flowed and the elasticity of the blood vessel.
The study produced interesting results.
The impact on the aortic artery is crucial because you want your blood vessels to allow blood to flow fast and be very elastic, not hard. The other important issue was did cutting calories make a difference in the artery and weight loss. If so, how much was needed to make a difference?
A slight restriction in calories is far more palatable to people than moderate or extreme, so a program is more likely to be adhered to. How about no restrictions at all just keep eating the same old poor diet but adding exercise. Which is the winner?
Moderation took the top spot on the podium. Both calorie-restricted groups lost more fat than the Group C exercise only. The shocking finding was that Group B had done the most belt-tightening and showed no improvement in the aorta’s function.
The exercise-only group lost the least fat and showed the same improvement in aorta function as Group A.
Group B had the most significant calorie restriction by more than 100 per cent but did not lose more weight. Group A had a very minor 250 calorie restriction but had the same fat loss as Group B and improved aorta function.
The implications of the study are clear. If you are a senior and obese, a little bit of belt-tightening and exercise can make for a massive improvement in your health.
Secondly, you do not have to starve yourself to make improvements and get good results. And finally, restricting calories, even more did not improve weight loss or health of the blood vessels. The subject’s aorta did not improve at all.
All of the subjects in the three groups had one thing in common: they exercised four times per week under the supervision and got results.
Perhaps the best environment for seniors to lose weight is a group program where an instructor focuses on them and provides structure and encouragement. Maybe the least effective program for seniors is not changing their diet and implementing a program without peers’ support or professional guidance.
Ron Cain is the owner of Sooke Mobile Personal Training. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Facebook at Sooke Personal Training.