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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
Roundtable Consensus Statement

Physical activity and the progressive change in body composition with aging: current evidence and research issues

TOTH, MICHAEL J.; BECKETT, TRAVIS; POEHLMAN, ERIC T.

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Abstract

TOTH, M. J., T. BECKETT, and E. T. POEHLMAN. Physical activity and the progressive change in body composition with aging: current evidence and research issues. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 31, No. 11, Suppl., pp. S590–S596, 1999.

Purpose: The purpose was to review studies that have examined the effect of aerobic (AEX) or resistance exercise (REX) on body composition in older individuals (>55 yr). Our goal was to examine the effect of these two exercise paradigms on fat mass and fat-free mass and to consider those factors that may explain variability in findings among studies.

Methods: We conducted a literature search (Medline, 1984–1999) for intervention studies (at least 2 months in duration) that have examined the independent effect of either REX or AEX on body composition in older individuals.

Results: AEX decreased fat mass (range: −0.4 to −3.2 kg) but had little effect on fat-free mass. The change in fat mass with AEX was related to the duration of the exercise program (r = 0.51;P < 0.02) but not to body composition methodology. In contrast, REX reduced fat mass (range: −0.9 to −2.7 kg) and increased fat-free mass (range: 1.1 to 2.1 kg). Changes in body composition with REX were not related to body composition methodology or the duration of the exercise program.

Conclusion: Both AEX and REX appear to be beneficial in reducing body fat. REX appears to have the additional benefit of increasing fat-free mass.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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