The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of a 12-month moderate-to-vigorous exercise program combining aerobic and muscle strength training on body composition among sedentary, postmenopausal women.
Methods: A randomized controlled trial was conducted. A total of 189 sedentary postmenopausal women (age 50-69 y, body mass index 22-40 kg/m2) were randomly assigned to an exercise (n = 96) or a control group (n = 93). Study parameters measured at baseline, 4 months, and 12 months were as follows: body weight and body height (body mass index), waist and hip circumference (body fat distribution), and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (total body fat and lean mass). Differences in changes in study parameters between exercise and control group were examined with generalized estimating equations analysis.
Results: The exercise program did not result in significant effects on weight, body mass index, and hip circumference. The exercise group experienced a statistically significant greater loss in total body fat, both absolute (-0.33 kg) (borderline) as in a percentage (-0.43%) compared with the control group. In addition, lean mass increased significantly (+0.31 kg), whereas waist circumference (-0.57 cm) decreased significantly compared with the control group.
Conclusions: We conclude that a 12-month exercise program combining aerobic and muscle strength training did not affect weight but positively influenced body composition of postmenopausal women. Affecting body fat distribution and waist circumference may have important health implications because it is an independent risk factor in obese but also in nonobese people. Therefore, this study gives further credence to efforts of public health and general practitioners aiming to increase physical activity levels of postmenopausal women.