Scientists from Florida Hospital found older adults who are overweight may improve their muscle function with a weight loss program that combines exercise and calorie reduction.
In the study, they examined three groups of obese seniors (average age: 70) over the course of six months:
One group followed a reduced-calorie diet to lose weight.
A second group combined calorie restriction with a supervised exercise program.
A control group attended health education classes but did not follow any specific diet or exercise program.
The team took samples of muscle fibers from all participants before and after the study to measure the mitochondria’s ability to use oxygen and provide the cells with energy (mitochondrial respiratory capacity).
Mitochondria are often referred to as the powerhouses of the cell. They help turn the energy we take from food into energy that the cell can use.
The team found mitochondrial respiratory capacity typically decreases with age as some people become less active and gain weight.
Increased mitochondrial capacity is better as it translates to greater metabolic and muscular functions.
The researchers found no change in mitochondrial respiration rate in the control and calorie-restricted groups.
The exercise and diet group, however, demonstrated improved mitochondrial respiration rates and a higher exercise capacity.
These results suggest that exercise training combined with a calorie restriction diet is essential to promote improvements in mitochondrial capacity.
Previous research has found that endurance exercise could increase mitochondrial function in skeletal muscle.
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The study was conducted by Giovanna Distefano et al and presented at the American Physiological Society’s Physiological Bioenergetics: Mitochondria from Bench to Bedside conference.
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