Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Fitness & Exercise

Font Size

Weighty Fix for Women's Midlife Fat

Lifting Weights Twice Per Week Curbs Middle-Age Flab, Study Shows
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 3, 2006 -- Lifting weights twice weekly helps women keep fat at bay in middle age, a new study shows.

The Strong Healthy and Empowered (SHE) study wasn't about lean women staying slim while aging. Instead, participants were overweight or obese -- like most U.S. adults -- when the two-year project started.

An estimated 65% of U.S. adults aged 20 and older are overweight or obese, states the CDC.

In the SHE study, women stayed leaner as they got older if they did regular weight training, even without dieting. Key benefits were deep inside the belly, where fat is linked to greater risk of heart disease.

About the Study

Here's a quick look at the SHE study:

  • Participants were 164 overweight or obese women aged 25-44 who were premenopausal.
  • Researchers included the University of Pennsylvania's Kathryn Schmitz, PhD, MPH.
  • Results will be presented in Phoenix at the American Heart Association's 46th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.

Half of the women were asked to do strength training twice per week for two years. They got lessons and supervision for four months, along with ongoing support from certified fitness pros. Seventy percent stuck with the program for two years.

For comparison, the other women didn't get the strength-training program. Instead, they got a brochure recommending 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise on most days of the week.

The women weren't asked to diet. In fact, they were told not to change their diets in any way that might affect their weight during the study. Both groups were similar in age and BMI.

Strong Results From Strength Training

Age often brings flab, Schmitz notes in an American Heart Association news release.

"On average, women in the middle years of their lives gain one to two pounds a year and most of this is assumed to be fat," Schmitz says. Her study challenged that pattern.

Deep belly fat (visceral fat) rose about 6% in the strength-training group. The comparison group had a much bigger increase in visceral fat (20%).

The strength trainers also ditched nearly 4% of their body fat, the study shows. Body fat was stable for the comparison group, according to the news release.

Healthy Living Tools

Ditch Those Inches

Set goals, tally calorie intake, track workouts and more, all via WebMD’s free Food & Fitness Planner.

Get Started

Today on WebMD

Wet feet on shower floor tile
Slideshow
Flat Abs
Slideshow
 
Build a Better Butt Slideshow
Slideshow
woman using ice pack
Quiz
 

man exercising
Article
7 most effective exercises
Interactive
 
Man looking at watch before workout
Slideshow
Overweight man sitting on park bench
Video
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

pilates instructor
Slideshow
jogger running among flowering plants
Video
 
woman walking
Article
Taylor Lautner
Article