Have you ever wondered which exercise method is most effective for helping older adults improve functional capacity and reduce insulin resistance? A study published in the January issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine (2009; 169[2], 122–31) suggests that a combination of cardiovascular and resistance exercise is best for health improvements.

The study involved 136 sedentary and abdominally obese older men and women (age was not provided) who were placed into one of four groups: resistance exercise, cardiovascular exercise, resistance and cardiovascular exercise combined or nonexercise control. The cardiovascular group performed 30 minutes of moderate-intensity treadmill walking five times per week; the resistance training group performed a set of nine exercises for 20 minutes three times per week; and the combo group performed 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three times per week and 60 minutes of resistance exercise weekly.

Upon study completion, all exercise groups had enhanced functional capacity. The cardiovascular and combination groups had made the greatest improvements in insulin resistance. However, the combination group’s results exceeded the rest. “That these observations were obtained in response to 90 minutes of moderate-
intensity [cardiovascular] exercise combined with 60 minutes of resistance exercise performed across 3 days each week is promising and suggests that substantial improvement in overall health through effective management of risk factors for disease and disability can be achieved in a pragmatic manner,” stated the authors.