Latest News & Research: 7 November 2017

This week: Group fitness trumps solo workouts for mental benefits • Get strong, live long • Older adults should lift weights, not just move • Non-exercisers can get on their bikes

Group fitness trumps solo workouts for mental benefits

Research has found that when it comes to feeling good and lowering stress, group exercise has the edge over solitary workouts.

In fact, in the study of 69 medical students (renowned for their stressful lifestyle), those who participated in a 12-week group fitness program self-reported a 26% reduction in stress levels.

Lead study author Dr Dayna Yorks reflected that ‘The communal benefits of coming together with friends and colleagues, and doing something difficult, while encouraging one another, pays dividends beyond exercising alone’.

Older adults should lift weights, not just move

A US study has found that older adults looking to not only lose some fat, but also retain more muscle as they age, should look to resistance training.

Over an 18-month period, 249 participants aged in their 60’s underwent one of three ‘weight loss’ protocols. Those who combined weight training with a low-calorie diet preserved more lean muscle mass – which is particularly important in older adults – than those who dieted and did cardio exercise, or those who just dieted. Surprisingly, the results appeared to show that cardio exercise may actually cause obese older adults to lose more ‘lean mass’ than dieting alone.

Lead study author Kristen Beavers said ‘A lot of older adults will walk as their exercise of choice. But this research shows that if you're worried about losing muscle, weight training can be the better option.’

Of course, the concept of traditional weight lifting may not hold much appeal for many older adults, which is why PTs need to figure out how to deliver the type of training that older clients will actually engage in and have fun with, while also getting stronger and leaner – which is why it’s well worth having a listen to this episode of The Fitness Industry Podcast with veteran trainer and coach, Ian O’Dwyer.

Get strong, live long

Meanwhile, Australian research has reinforced the life-prolonging abilities of resistance training.

A team from the University of Sydney studied data from over 80,000 individuals, and found that those who participated in resistance training had a 23% lower risk of death by all causes, and a 31% reduced risk of death by cancer-related causes.

Study author, Dr Emmanuel Stamatakis said that the results add to the growing body of research findings highlighting that strength training may be as beneficial to long term health as aerobic exercise – for a long time the more researched and celebrated of the two.

‘Our message to date has just been to get moving but this study prompts a rethink about, when appropriate, expanding the kinds of exercise we are encouraging for long-term health and well-being’ Stamatakis concluded.

Non-exercisers can get on their bikes

Another study has pointed to the benefits of incidental exercise for those for whom the concept of traditional, structured ‘exercise’ or fitness training may seem too intimidating or demanding.

Over a six-month period, Danish researchers studied 130 overweight individuals who they placed into one of three physical activity groups, or an inactive control group. At the conclusion of the study period, all the physically active groups had lost fat mass, while the inactive group had, unsurprisingly, not.

Interestingly, those who undertook high intensity physical activity on five days a week lost only 7% more fat than those who cycled to and from work each day (4.5kg and 4.2kg respectively).

Study author Jonas Salling Quist said 'All forms of physical exercise are better than the control group (no exercise), but high-intensity exercise is statistically better than moderate-intensity exercise. And riding the bike to and from work is at least as effective a means for reducing fat mass as exercising during your leisure time'.