Best Life: Weighted vest to help elderly with exercise

Updated: Jul. 9, 2020 at 7:44 AM CDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Weight loss can be a tricky topic. While obesity poses serious health risks, slimming down may also lead to muscle and bone loss. See how researchers found adding a piece of fashion helped the elderly lose weight safely!

Joyce Jackson admits working out used to be a foreign idea to her.

“I knew that I needed to exercise but never took the time to do it,” Jackson said.

That was until the 78-year-old joined a study on exercise and weight loss at Wake Forest University.

“Thinking about exercise as a countermeasure to muscle and bone loss as an older adult loses weight, I think is very important,” shared Kristen Beavers, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Health & Exercise Science at Wake Forest University.

Beavers studies the risks and benefits of weight loss in older adults.

“That’s because when people want to lose weight what they want to lose is fat, but some of what you lose is muscle and bone,” explained Beavers.

That can lead to fractures. But shedding fat also means improvements in function.

“They’re going to get out of this chair a little faster, they’re going to walk a little faster,” continued Beavers.

So, Beavers and her team came up with a clever way to incorporate resistance training into the study in the form of a weighted vest!

“These little slats right here you can actually put little weights in here,” stated Beavers.

They asked 40 seniors in the pilot study to wear the vest up to ten hours a day.

“They would just get up in the morning and put it on, wear it during their most active part of the day and then take it off,” said Beavers.

The results were pretty dramatic!

“People who wore this vest during this pilot study actually did preserve their bone especially at their hip,” Beavers told Ivanhoe.

Bob Spontak wasn’t part of the pilot study or the INVEST study but did join one where he exercised three times a week and lost 48 pounds.

“I’m more than amazed, I’m very pleased,” smiled Spontak.

Jackson worked her way up to 60 minutes on the bike three times a week!

“Start off with a little bit and you’ll see the difference,” said Jackson.

In addition to performing weight-bearing exercises at least three days per week, Beavers also recommends a high-protein diet with calcium and vitamin D to minimize muscle and bone loss. Wake Forest University received a 2.9-million-dollar grant from the National Institute on Aging to expand the INVEST study. Researchers are enrolling people ages 60 to 85 years of age now. The weighted vest is available on Amazon for about $200 which Beavers points out is more cost-effective than a gym membership.

Contributors to this news report include: Janna Ross, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Kirk Manson, Videographer.

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