Strength Training for Baby Boomers and Beyond
Did you know that 75% of adults over age 60 are overweight or obese (JAMA, 2010)? Without resistance training, we lose about six pounds of muscle per decade. That translates to a metabolic rate reduction of 3% per decade and a fat gain of 16 pounds in a decade. Once we hit 50, the muscle loss increases to 10 pounds per decade (Nelson, JAMA 1994). Muscle loss increases risk factors for obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (Strasser, J. Obesity, 2011). According to fitness expert and researcher Wayne Westcott, Ph.D, that is just the tip of the iceberg.
However, Dr. Westcott, with numerous studies to back up his claims, stated that a simple program of resistance training, 10-20 total exercise sets, can reverse muscle loss in adults of all ages. For example, a large study (1,644 subjects), using ACSM strength training guidelines (1 set of 8-12 repetitions of 12 exercises two-three days per week), resulted in a three pound increase of lean (muscle) weight in 10 weeks of training (Westcott, Physician and Sports Medicine, 2009). That muscle gain can help to increase resting metabolism and reduce body fat.
It doesn’t stop there. A similar resistance training program has been proven to facilitate physical function, resist and control Type 2 Diabetes, improve cardiovascular health, increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind) while reducing LDL and triglycerides, increase bone mineral density, enhance mental health, and reverse aging factors.
Ignore the title of this session for a moment. This information is relevant to all age groups. Obesity is at an all-time high, young children are getting Type 2 Diabetes, low back pain is afflicting adults of all ages. This next screen will scare the hell out of you.
The study above took 5,000 participants and used accelerometers to measure their activity. The percentage of the population of various ages that attained a bare minimum of physical activity is listed above. That activity is equal to walking 30 minutes pretty slowly (about 2.5 mph), five days a week.
Dr. Westcott went on to discuss strength training principles, and the benefits of a higher protein diet (1.5 grams per kilogram of ideal body weight-note that it is ideal weight, not actual), along with high fruit, vegetable, and water intake, moderate calories (low fat, low starch), in conjunction with the resistance training.
The Future of Fitness
I saved this session review until last because it was the one that most interested me. I’ve even discussed it with some of my students and they were eager to get in on the conversation. I hope that you will to.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this session was led by a panel of experts representing ACE, the American Council on Exercise. The speakers were Scott Goudeseune, CEO of ACE, Janet Frenkel, COO, and Cedric Bryant, Ph.D, CSO. The title, the Future of Fitness refers to ACE Vision 2035, their vision to eliminate obesity by 2035. Quite a lofty goal.
The plan to achieve this goal is comprehensive and involves the health care community, local leaders, the fitness community, schools, and employers. As part of the fitness community, I focused on what I personally can do as a personal trainer and fitness director.
One of the things that was mentioned, is that we must change the way we talk about fitness. Currently, most health clubs market themselves to fit people. Think of the advertising that you’ve seen. Usually a picture of a young, fit, muscular person, in relatively skimpy clothing, looking happy and healthy. Is that motivating? Or intimidating? Think about what an obese person feels when they walk through the doors of our fitness centers. What do they see when they walk in the door? What does the salesman talk about? How about the personal trainer with the introductory training session? Are those experiences designed to help an un-fit, overweight person begin their health journey? Or is it an overwhelmingly embarrassing experience that leaves that person in deeper despair that before? What can we do to make fitness accessible to everyone?
Some of the things discussed that the fitness community can do is to make sure that they are hiring qualified, certified trainers. We also need to assume a degree of accountability. Because if are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
This is just a partial report on the big plans that ACE has to eliminate obesity by 2035. You can read the full 2012 Impact Report, which includes Vision 2035, here.
I know that many of my readers are active and fit, and that a lot of you are involved in the fitness industry. What do you think? How do we make fitness accessible? How do we get the inactive to move? How do we educate the population about the real dangers of obesity, and encourage them to change their behavior? Please discuss.