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New study weighs benefits of exercise, diets

ST. LOUIS -- Those in their 50s and 60s who want to lose weight might consider heading to the cardio workout room instead of counting calories, suggests new research out this month.

Both those who dieted and those who exercised lost a significant amount of weight, according to findings from an NIH-funded study on whether a calorie-restriction diet can extend lifespan. However, while exercisers maintained their strength and muscle mass and increased aerobic capacity, those who dieted lost muscle mass, strength and aerobic capacity.

"Exercise-induced weight loss provides the additional benefit of improving physical performance capacity," says Edward Weiss, Ph.D., lead author and assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University's Doisy College of Health Sciences.

"If push comes to shove and somebody wants to know if they should diet or exercise to lose weight, I would suggest exercise, provided they are willing to put in the extra time and effort and not offset the gains they make by eating more."

Weiss is a part of a Washington University team of scientists who studied healthy 50- to 60-year olds whose body mass index was between 23 and 30, placing them at the high end of normal weight or overweight.

Of the 34 study participants, 18 dieted and 16 exercised to lose weight.

The goal of dieters was to reduce their calorie consumption by 16 percent the first three months, and by 20 percent the next nine. Likewise, exercisers strove to burn 16 percent more calories the first three months, increasing to 20 percent the next nine months.

Both groups lost between 9 and 10 percent of their total body weight. Those who exercised engaged in 60 minutes of cardiovascular activity six times a week, such as a brisk three- to four-mile walk. Those exercisers who worked out for 90 minutes a day took off more pounds 15 to 20 percent of their body weight.

Those who dieted lost muscle
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Contact: Nancy Solomon
solomonn@slu.edu
31-449-778-017
Saint Louis University
16-Nov-2006


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