Consider some of the great bodies in bodybuilding, Frank Zane and Arnold Schwarzenegger, for instance. Even in their later years these guys look damn good; the tell-tale belly bulge of old age doesn’t plague them. Want to know their secret? They hit the weights; and now research published in the journal Obesity backs up why you should, too.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public health studied the physical activity, waist circumference (in centimeters (cm)), and body weight of 10,500 healthy men over the age of 40. They analyzed the changes in the participants’ activity levels over 12 years and how they changed the participants’ waist circumference, Those who increased the amount of time spent weight training by 20 minutes a day had less gain in their waistline (-0.67 cm) compared with men who similarly increased the amount of time they spent on moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise (-0.33 cm), and yard work or stair climbing (-0.16 cm). Those who increased their sedentary behaviors, such as TV watching, had a larger gain in their waistline.
Not surprisingly, combining weight training and aerobic activity led to the most optimal results. And if you think just walking around the retirement village will keep you slim in old age, forget it: Aerobic exercise by itself was associated with less weight gain compared with weight training.
Why? Because as we age, we lose muscle mass but weight training fends off that phenomena. So keep hitting the iron to keep off the belly weight.