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If your resolutions included a re-energized commitment to cardio, you might want to reconsider your program.
A recent study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health reports that for men over 40, aerobic exercise alone may not be enough to rid you of your ring around the middle.
The study, published in the journal Obesity, found that men who did 20 minutes of daily weight training gained less abdominal fat than men who did 20 minutes of daily aerobic activity. A combination of cardio and weight training led to optimal results.
In a news release Rania Mekary, a researcher in HSPH’s Department of Nutrition, explains that "aging is associated with sarcopenia, the loss of skeletal muscle mass, [therefore] relying on body weight alone is insufficient for the study of healthy aging. Measuring waist circumference is a better indicator of healthy body composition among older adults. Engaging in resistance training or, ideally, combining it with aerobic exercise could help older adults lessen abdominal fat while increasing or preserving muscle mass.”
This long-term study is different from prior research because it did not focus on one specific population. Researchers followed 10,500 healthy U.S. men over 40 between 1996-2008, measuring waist circumference, body weight and physical activity.
“This study underscores the importance of weight training in reducing abdominal obesity, especially among the elderly,” Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH and senior author of the study, said in the release. “To maintain a healthy weight and waistline, it is critical to incorporate weight training with aerobic exercise.”
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