Recent study findings from researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have found that people over the age of 55 who start an exercise program can lose a significant amount of fat, but not bone mass.
These results contradict concerns that loss of fat also means loss of bone mass, since studies have shown that people with more body fat tend to have stronger bones. Research has shown that body fat can actually help bone mass because it creates a beneficial stress on bones, making them stronger.
To investigate, researchers asked over 100 men and women between the ages of 55 and 75 to either try to follow general recommendations on exercise for 6 months, or participate in exercise training under supervision 3 times each week, doing stretching, resistance training and aerobics. Study participants who followed the supervised exercise program showed improvements in upper and lower body strength, total strength, lean mass, body weight, total and abdominal body fat.
For men, the supervised exercise program appeared to have no effect on their bone density. For women, exercising was associated with a slight decrease in overall bone density. However, even women who didn't exercise lost some bone mass.
Researchers found that the participants who achieved the greatest increase in fitness from their exercise program actually showed improvements in bone mass as well. Since these study findings demonstrate that exercise is beneficial for bone mass during weight loss, researchers recommend that weight loss regimens include diet and exercise components.
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