Effect of sport and calorie reduction in obesity fitbook

Seniors who are overweight don't need a crash diet to get healthier. Moderate calorie restriction with moderate exercise works best. Photo: iStock/FredFroese

From FITBOOK | 06. August 2021, 2:03 pm

Older people with obesity don't need hardcore workouts and extreme diets for their health, according to a new study. On the contrary, those who moderately reduce calories and exercise daily can do their heart some good.

Who has already some years on the hump and something fat around the hips, should particularly pay attention to its heart health. The good news: even a moderate lifestyle change can go a long way. Elderly people who are heavily overweight can do something good for their heart if they already reduce 200 calories per day and do moderate exercise. This is more beneficial for heart function than just exercising and not changing their eating habits – and apparently even more so than cutting back on calories in addition to exercising. This is the conclusion of researchers from the American Heart Association. 1


Strongly reducing calories is not healthier

The big surprise of the study by the American Heart Association: according to the scientists, it does little for health if adults with obesity (adiposity) follow an even stricter diet.

The best effect was seen in the study participants who reduced their calorie intake in moderation and also did sports four times a week. After only five months, they had consistently been able to reduce their weight. In addition, an improvement of the heart vessels was shown.

Tina E. Brinkley is lead author of the study. In a press release, the professor of gerontology and and geriatric medicine explains, "This is the first study to investigate the effects of endurance training with and without calorie reduction on arterial stiffness, which was measured using cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) to obtain detailed images of the aorta." 2

How the study went?

Researchers invited 160 adults aged 65 to 79 to participate in the study, which ran for 20 weeks. Subjects suffered from obesity with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 to 45 kilograms/m 2 . Of the participants, 74 percent were female and 73 percent were white. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three groups:

– only sport with eating habits as before – sport plus moderate calorie reduction (200 calories per day) – sport plus intensive calorie reduction (600 calories per day)

Over the study period, the two groups (exercise plus calorie reduction) received diet-based lunches and dinners that were pre-prepared under the strict eye of a nutritionist. The participants made their own breakfast, but again according to the dietician's instructions. All subjects participated in supervised endurance training four times a week during the study period.

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