Exercise at midlife to preserve lean mass and reduce weight gain


Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

The mid-life and menopausal transition period is a time associated with weight gain and changes in body composition, including a loss in lean muscle mass (and bone density) and an accumulation of visceral adipose tissue, which are linked with excess morbidity and mortality. Despite overwhelming evidence to support the health benefits of regular exercise, not all forms are equally effective, with the benefits being modality and dose-dependent, and influenced by various dietary factors. Aerobic exercise alone is effective for improving fitness which is a strong predictor of long-term morbidity and mortality. However, it has modest effects on weight loss (1-3%), unless performed >225 min/week or combined with modest energy restriction (ER), which has been associated with concomitant muscle loss. There is inconclusive evidence to support the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on body composition post menopause. Progressive resistance training (PRT) performed at least twice a week increases muscle mass and strength and can preserve bone density if combined with weight-bearing exercises but has limited effects on fitness and adiposity. Multi-faceted interventions incorporating aerobic training plus PRT, along with modest ER in women who are overweight/obese, offer the greatest benefits, but must include behavioural strategies to promote long-term adherence.


Professor Robin M. Daly, PhD FSMF FASBMR
Deakin University, Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Melbourne, VIC, Australia Professor Robin Daly holds the position of Chair in Exercise and Ageing, co-leads the Preventing and Managing Chronic Diseases domain and is Head of the Musculoskeletal Health and Mobility group within the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University. His research focuses on conducting clinical and translational trials to understand how exercise and nutritional approaches can prevent and manage diseases such as sarcopenia, falls, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and cognitive related disorders. His work has led to the implementation of evidence‐based, community exercise programs and nutritional products to optimise musculoskeletal health and body composition. He is also interested in the role of digital technology as a model of service delivery for self-management of chronic diseases. He is immediate-Past President of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Sarcopenia and Frailty Research (ANZSSFR) and a Fellow of Sports Medicine Australia and the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.