Harvard Women's Health Watch

Exercise-but avoid burnout

When it comes to exercise, you may not need to go all out to get fit. In a study published in July in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers randomly assigned 72 sedentary women, ages 60 to 74, to one of three interventions: one day a week of aerobic training (40 minutes) plus one day of resistance training (two sets of 10 repetitions for 10 different exercises), two days a week each of aerobic and resistance training, or three days a week each of aerobic and resistance training. Researchers measured the women's body composition, energy, strength, and other fitness indicators before and after the four-month program. Women in all three groups lost body fat and increased their strength and aerobic fitness, but those who exercised twice a week were just as strong and fit as those who worked out six days a week. The authors say women who spent less time in the gym had more energy to stay active during the rest of the week, which helped them burn more daily calories than women who were getting burned out at the gym.

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