Dear Biomch-L Community,

Many thanks to all of you who responded. Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh (University of Sydney) kindly provided the reference and abstract for this paper;

* E Atlantis, C Chow, A Kirby and M Fiatarone Singh, (2006), "Worksite intervention effects on physical health: a randomized controlled trial", Health Promot Int, 2006 Apr 4; 16595619

This randomized controlled trial was conducted at one of Australia's casinos in 2002-2003, to investigate the effects of a comprehensive exercise and lifestyle intervention on physical fitness but only 6.4% of the workforce expressed interest in being study participants. These participants were 73 employees aged about 32 years old on average (+/- 8 yrs) of both genders and of these 51% were overweight or obese. The main components of the program were supervised moderate-to-high intensity exercise including combined aerobic (at least 20 min duration 3 days/week), weight-training (for an estimated 30 min completed 2-3 days/week), and dietary/health education (delivered via group seminars, one-on-one counselling and literature through the provision of a worksite manual). This worksite intervention led to significantly improved waist circumference and aerobic fitness in healthy sedentary employees (but no significant effects on body mass or body mass index were found).

However, it seems that typical workplace health and wellbeing programs for adult workers focus mainly on combating the cardiovascular problem rather than combating the sarcopenia problem. Professor Gordon (Western Washington University) provided the abstract for a paper on the effect of a 3-month walking program for office workers; it lowered blood pressure and promoted weight loss. The reference is;

* Low D, Gramlich M, Engram B, (2007), "Self-paced exercise program for office workers: impact on productivity and health outcomes", AAOHN J. 2007 Mar; 55(3): 99-105.

A similar program that also promoted a healthier diet showed that participation was linked with a lowering of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels;

* White K and Jacques P, (2007) "Combined diet and exercise intervention in the workplace: effect on cardiovascular disease risk factors", AAOHN J. 2007 Mar; 55(3): 109-14.

It is possible that the endurance training usually recommended to combat heart problems would not have much efficacy for combating sarcopenia anyway. resistance training alone might be the way to go. Tim Doyle (University of Western Australia) said;

"What the literature tells us in general i.e., the populations are generally young not middle aged, but presumably the results would translate, is that aerobic training can interfere with weight training, but the reverse is not true. What I mean by this is that when people concurrently train aerobically and resistance train, benefits from resistance training, strength, increased CSA etc. can be compromised by the aerobic training, but VO2max, economy and such can be enhanced, so from an athlete point of view; crudely, marathon runners can benefit from weight training, but an Olympic lift should not include long distance running in their training. So then, if you are trying to limit/reverse/stop sarcopenia then endurance training should probably not be the focus, rather resistance training should be. Not to say they shouldn't train aerobically. BTW, the mechanisms behind this are unclear, there is also some uncertainty about the timing of the training sessions etc."

Tim gave me a lead to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) 2001 Conference Abstracts which led to references such as The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 391-399. The conference papers assisted me to track down these references;

* M Izquierdo, K Häkkinen, J Ibáñez, W Kraemer and E Gorostiaga, (2005), "Effects of combined resistance and cardiovascular training on strength, power, muscle cross-sectional area, and endurance markers in middle-aged men", Eur J Appl Physiol, 2005 May; 94 (1-2): 70-5.

* Galvão, Daniel A., Taaffe, Dennis R., "Resistance Training for the Older Adult: Manipulating Training Variables to Enhance Muscle Strength", Strength and Conditioning Journal Volume: 27 Issue: 3 Pages: 48-54

That's all folks!


David McFarlane MAppSc (Ergonomics)
Ergonomist, WorkCover NSW


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