Wearing a weighted vest may help older adults to successfully lose weight while protecting bone quality and density. Losing excess weight offers health benefits for older adults, but losing bone mass does not. And many who lose both weight and bone do not regain bone density, even if they regain the weight.

Wake Forest University researchers in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, conducted a 6-month pilot study in which participants wore a 2-pound vest for an average of 6.5 hours per day. People who wore the vest dramatically reduced hip bone loss when compared with those who did not wear the vest. The pilot study is available in The Journal of Frailty & Aging (2018; 7 [3], 198–203).

“With the weighted vest, you’re keeping yourself at an equal load while you lose weight,” says principal investigator Kristen M. Beavers, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science. “We know that not all, but a lot, of bone loss that occurs when you drop pounds is because of this ‘unloading effect.’” This year, a new study to confirm WFU’s findings will follow 192 adults ages 60–85 in a randomized, controlled trial.

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