Pumping iron is better for maintaining men’s figures than aerobic exercise, a new study at the Harvard School of Public Health revealed. So if you want to enjoy nice looking abs, better keep those barbells active.
“This study underscores the importance of weight training in reducing abdominal obesity, especially among the elderly,” says senior study author Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH. “To maintain a healthy weight and waistline, it is critical to incorporate weight training with aerobic exercise.”
The study involved 10,500 volunteers comprising of able bodied American men whose ages ranged from 40 and above. They had different body sizes and various body mass indexes or BMI. For 12 years, they monitored the volunteers; from the year 1996 to 2008.
In order to evaluate how to contain body fat related to aging, members of the research team gathered information on all the participants. Namely their physical activity, weight, and waist measurements. The waist size is considered to be the most crucial part for Rania Makara, the lead author of the research team and a researcher at HSPH’s Department of Nutrition.
“Because aging is associated with sarcopenia, the loss of skeletal muscle mass, relying on body weight alone is insufficient for the study of healthy aging,” she says. “Measuring waist circumference is a better indicator of healthy body composition among older adults.”
Volunteers increased their aerobic exercise from moderate to intense by 20 minutes daily and were able to attain a 0.33 waistline reduction compared to 0.67 cm for those who combined aerobic exercise and weight training.
Maximum results were obtained by those who mixed aerobic exercise with weight training. However, those who lived a more sedentary lifestyle offset their losses with gains.
“Engaging in resistance training or, ideally, combining it with aerobic exercise could help older adults lessen abdominal fat while increasing or preserving muscle mass,” says Dr. Mekary.