Q&A: HOW DO EXERCISE AND WEIGHT LOSS AFFECT QUALITY OF LIFE IN OLDER PEOPLE?

What does current research say about assessing injury risk, encouraging clients to lose weight and improving older people’s quality of life?

by TONY NUÑEZ, PHD

HOW DO EXERCISE AND WEIGHT LOSS AFFECT QUALITY OF LIFE IN OLDER PEOPLE?

People tend to live longer if they maintain a healthy weight, but they place the most value on their health-related quality of life (QOL) and their ability to complete ADLs, especially as they age. In a recent study, researchers analyzed how three scenarios—weight loss alone (WL), weight loss plus aerobic training (WLA) and weight loss plus resistance training (WLR)—affected QOL and social-cognitive outcomes.

The 18-month study recruited 249 overweight or obese adults (aged 66.9 ± 4.7 years) and randomly assigned them to a scenario. WL went on dietary restrictions, aiming for a 7%–10% reduction in body weight over the long term. WLA combined dietary restrictions with 4 days per week of indoor walking at a somewhat hard intensity.

WLR followed the same dietary restrictions and, on 4 days per week, did full-body resistance exercise, maintaining a self-reported hard-to-very-hard intensity. A validated questionnaire assessed participants’ health-related QOL, self-efficacy during walking and stair climbing, and satisfaction with physical functions.

Conclusion: Weight loss combined with either aerobic or resistance training elicited better health-related consequences than weight loss alone. As expected, WLA trainees reported greater self-efficacy during walking than the other groups did. WLR trainees reported greater self-efficacy during stair climbing at follow-ups. These results reaffirm that aerobic and resistance exercises can improve the lives of older people, especially when combined with weight loss.

REFERENCE: Fanning, J., et al. 2018. Change in health-related quality of life and social cognitive outcomes in obese, older adults in a randomized controlled weight loss trial: Does physical activity behavior matter? Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 41 (3), 299–308.

Meet our experts

AFM_Author_Nunez TONY P. NUÑEZ, PHD, is an assistant professor in exercise science at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is an active researcher and presenter in the exercise physiology and fitness field.

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