Being overweight in older age carries a number of health risks including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers but seniors should be careful about how they go about trying to drop weight in order to avoid losing bone or muscle mass.
A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that seniors who performed strength training or a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training preserved more muscle and bone mass than older adults who only did exercise such as treadmill walking. Those who participated in aerobic activity as well as strength training three times a week improved their endurance and performed better on function tests such as climbing stairs, standing up from a chair and picking up a penny.
A healthy diet, along with an exercise program that includes strength training can help improve function and quality of life even after years of an unhealthy lifestyle. But trying to lose weight with diet alone puts overweight seniors at a greater risk of being frail, which combined with excess weight can increase the danger of falls leading to broken bones and loss of independence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of American adults are obese and the number of seniors over the age 60 who are overweight is rising. A 2016 report from the United Health Foundation found that over the next 14 years, seniors over 65 will have a 25 per cent higher prevalence of obesity than the current population and a 55 per cent higher rate of diabetes.
To read the full study, visit the New England Journal of Medicine online by following this link.