Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham find that elderly women tend to lose more fat from their abdomens than men as a result of resistance training using weights.
However, these results do not suggest that elderly men should abandon resistance training. Although men did not lose any fat from a particular region in their guts, both men and women increased their strength by a similar amount, and both lost the same amount of total fat mass as a result of the exercise.
As well, previous studies have shown that resistance training can help the elderly, both men and women, improve their ability to take on everyday physical tasks, and can also increase their metabolism and thus their food consumption, which in turn increases their intake of needed vitamins and other nutrients.
During the study, the researchers measured the effect of 25 weeks of resistance training for 12 women and 14 men. The study participants, aged 61 to 77 years, completed two sets of 10 repetitions three times per week. Repetitions included activities such as back extensions, leg extensions, bench presses and bent leg sit-ups.
After participants had completed the exercise program, the investigators used CT scans to measure the loss of fat from a particular region of their abdomen. Higher amounts of abdominal fat have been linked to diabetes, heart disease and an increased overall risk of death.
Both men and women improved their strength by an average of 15% and 16%, respectively, and lost slightly less than 2 kilograms--about 4.4 pounds--of total body fat.
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