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

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

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: November 1999 - Volume 31 - Issue 11 - p S590
Roundtable Consensus Statement

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.

Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Metabolic Research, Department of Medicine, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405

Address for correspondence: Eric T. Poehlman, Ph.D., Given Building C-247, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405. E-mail: epoehlma@zoo.uvm.edu.

Roundtable held February 4–7, 1999, Indianapolis, IN.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.