How to Improve Function in Obese Adults

By Ryan Halvorson
Dec 8, 2014

Mobility can be an issue for adults with obesity, and exercise can help. But is there a preferred method for improving functional capacity in this population? Researchers may have the answer.

A small study published in Experimental Gerontology (2014; 60, 64–71) pitted against each other two popular types of exercise— high-speed circuit training and hypertrophy training—to determine which was associated with greater improvements in physical function among sarcopenic obese adults aged 60 or older. The 21 subjects were divided into two exercise groups for 15 weeks of training.

Researchers used the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) test to assess static balance, gait speed, and ability to get in and out of a chair (primary outcomes). Also measured were lower and upper-body power and strength; “instrumental” activities of daily living; ratings of perceived exertion; body fat; skeletal muscle index; and grip strength (secondary outcomes).

In several areas, high-speed circuit training produced better outcomes than hypertrophy training. Specifically, the circuit training group did moderately better on the SPPB test, lower-body power assessment and ratings
of perceived exertion. However, there was no statistical difference between protocols with regard to other measures.

While results proved moderate and the sample size was small, the researchers believe that high-speed circuit training should be investigated further as a potential exercise intervention for this particular population.

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Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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