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Whole-body electromyostimulation as a means to impact muscle mass and abdominal body fat in lean, sedentary, older female adults: subanalysis of the TEST-III trial

Authors Kemmler W, von Stengel S

Published Date October 2013 Volume 2013:8 Pages 1353—1364

DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S52337

Received 1 August 2013, Accepted 3 September 2013, Published 7 October 2013

Wolfgang Kemmler, Simon von Stengel

Institute of Medical Physics, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany

Background: The primary aim of this study was to determine the effect of 12 months of whole-body electromyostimulation (WB-EMS) exercise on appendicular muscle mass and abdominal fat mass in subjects specifically at risk for sarcopenia and abdominal obesity, but unable or unwilling to exercise conventionally.
Methods: Forty-six lean, nonsportive (<60 minutes of exercise per week), elderly women (aged 75 ± 4 years) with abdominal obesity according to International Diabetes Federation criteria were randomly assigned to either a WB-EMS group (n=23) which performed 18 minutes of intermittent, bipolar WB-EMS (85 Hz) three sessions in 14 days or an "active" control group (n=23). Whole-body and regional body composition was assessed by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry to determine appendicular muscle mass, upper leg muscle mass, abdominal fat mass, and upper leg fat mass. Maximum strength of the leg extensors was determined isometrically by force plates.
Results: After 12 months, significant intergroup differences were detected for the primary endpoints of appendicular muscle mass (0.5% ± 2.0% for the WB-EMS group versus −0.8% ± 2.0% for the control group, P=0.025) and abdominal fat mass (−1.2% ± 5.9% for the WB-EMS group versus 2.4% ± 5.8% for the control group, P=0.038). Further, upper leg lean muscle mass changed favorably in the WB-EMS group (0.5% ± 2.5% versus −0.9% ± 1.9%, in the control group, P=0.033), while effects for upper leg fat mass were borderline nonsignificant (−0.8% ± 3.5% for the WB-EMS group versus 1.0% ± 2.6% for the control group, P=0.050). With respect to functional parameters, the effects for leg extensor strength were again significant, with more favorable changes in the WB-EMS group (9.1% ± 11.2% versus 1.0% ± 8.1% in the control group, P=0.010).
Conclusion: In summary, WB-EMS showed positive effects on the parameters of sarcopenia and regional fat accumulation. Further, considering the good acceptance of this technology by this nonsportive elderly cohort at risk for sarcopenia and abdominal obesity, WB-EMS may be a less off-putting alternative to impact appendicular muscle mass and abdominal fat mass, at least for subjects unwilling or unable to exercise conventionally.

Keywords: electrostimulation, exercise, aged, muscle, abdominal fat, sarcopenia

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