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Comparison of the Effects of Swimming and Tai Chi Chuan on Body Fat Composition in Elderly People

Author(s): Tung-Yang Yu | Yu-Cheng Pei | Yiu-Chung Lau | Chih-Kuang Chen | Hung-Chih Hsu | Alice M.K. Wong

Journal: Chang Gung Medical Journal
ISSN 2072-0939

Volume: 30;
Issue: 02;
Start page: 128;
Date: 2007;
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Keywords: body composition | fat distribution | swimming | Tai Chi Chuan

Background: Accumulation of fat and substantial loss of muscle mass are common phenomenain the elderly. In this study, we observed the effects of Tai ChiChuan (TCC) and swimming, two exercises suitable for elderly people, onthe percentage body fat and fat distribution by measuring subcutaneous adiposetissue thickness and body composition.Methods: Subjects were divided into three groups: regular swimmers (n = 20), regularTCC practitioners (n = 32), and age-matched control subjects (n = 31).Subcutaneous adipose tissue thickness was taken using a Lange skinfoldcaliper at the chests, abdomens, and thighs in the men, and the triceps,suprailium, and thighs in the women. Mid-arm circumference (MAC) wasmeasured on the non-dominant upper arm using fiberglass tape. Body compositionwas analyzed using the Inbody 3.0 logo, a bioelectrical impedanceanalysis (BIA) system.Results: No significant differences were found between the three test groups in relationto total body adiposity and arm muscle circumference in the men andwomen. There was significantly less subcutaneous adipose tissue at theabdomen (p = 0.011) and thigh (p < 0.001) of TCC-group men and at thethighs (p < 0.001) of the swimming group compared with the control group.In women, only the thigh skinfold (p = 0.002) showed a decrease in the TCCgroup compared with the control group.Conclusion: Swimming and TCC may not decrease total fat adiposity in elderly men andwomen, however, they may change body fat distribution due to certain musclegroup usage. The differences observed in the effects of exercise on bodyfat distribution between elderly women and men may be gender-related.
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