Lifestyle changes leading to modest weight loss of 5-10% are generally sufficient to yield significant improvements in a variety of chronic disease risk factors and are widely recommended. During weight loss, however, a higher ratio of muscle-to-fat mass is lost in older compared to younger adults. Thus, the potential for muscle loss is sometimes a deterrent to prescribed weight loss for overweight and obese older adults, particularly those with or at risk of sarcopenia.

Sarcopenia is the age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass that is associated with a heightened risk of disability. Approximately 30% of individuals over 60 years of age and as many as 50% of people over 80 years are at increased risk of mobility limitations, frailty, falls and fractures due to sarcopenia

Sarcopenic obesity, a term describing the presence of both obesity and low muscle mass, poses an even greater risk of disability. Although muscle loss is an inevitable consequence of aging, considerable differences exist between individuals. Some research has suggested that vitamin D may play a role in sarcopenia. For example, blood levels of vitamin D have been positively associated with muscle mass, muscle strength and physical performance, while improvements in physical functioning and reduced risk of falls have been demonstrated in older adults after vitamin D supplementation.

In our recent study, we investigated whether blood levels of vitamin D influenced the loss of total and appendicular (arms and legs) lean mass in 439 overweight and obese women 50-75 years of age who were undergoing 12 months of either: i) dietary caloric restriction (goal: 10% weight loss), ii) aerobic exercise (goal: 45 minutes/day, 5 days/week of moderate-to-vigorous activity), iii) a combination of diet and exercise, or iv) no lifestyle change.

Although higher levels of blood vitamin D were associated with greater muscle mass at the start of the study, higher vitamin D levels did not protect against the loss of lean mass during weight loss. However, we showed that when added to a dietary weight loss program, regular aerobic exercise can help preserve lean mass while still achieving significant and meaningful weight loss and improvements in metabolic risk factors. Thus, regular moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity should be considered a viable strategy to counteract the potentially negative effects of weight loss interventions among older adults.

While resistance exercise is typically considered the best approach for preserving muscle mass with aging, its ability to promote weight loss, especially in older women, has not been shown. Future studies should investigate whether the addition of resistance training, and at what dose, may offer additional benefits for preserving both muscle mass and muscle function during weight loss.


Not quite sure what all the lingo means when you are choosing your morning yogurt? Do you need a probiotic? How about adding in a prebiotic? Here we’ll set the stage on what probiotics are and their potential to improve health and performance.

Probiotics are foods that contain live microorganisms, such as yeast, Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria, and other specific strains of beneficial bacteria (1). They are most active in the small intestines, and there is strong support that probiotics may improve digestive health and immunity function. You’ll find probiotics in some yogurts and other cultured dairy products.

Prebiotics are a nondigestible food product for the probiotics. These include inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides, and polydextrose, which can be found in whole grains, onions, garlic, leeks, honey, along with some fruits (bananas) and fortified foods and beverages (1-2). Prebiotics are most active in the large intestines, and may improve gastrointestinal health and increase calcium and magnesium absorption.

Symbiotics are a combination of probiotics and prebiotics. They improve the probiotics ability to deliver health benefits because they contain live bacteria and the prebiotic fuel it needs to survive longer in the digestive system.

Consuming probiotics may positively impact the beneficial flora of the intestines, especially when the bacterial status of the system is out of balance. This imbalance can be influenced by such things as stress, alcohol use, illness, age, antibiotic use, content of and transit time through the gut.

Additional probiotic claims and possibilities for general health improvement continue to grow. Areas undergoing more research include:

  • Obesity and metabolic syndrome
  • Cholesterol-lowering effects
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Constipation prevention
  • Colon cancer prevention

Probiotics are safe for most healthy adults and side effects are rare. Always check with your healthcare provider if you are considering adding supplements to your diet.


I am an active member of this amazing service organization that serves people in need locally, as well as worldwide.  There are two upcoming events by which you can help the Rotary, and possibly get a tax deduction.

Book Drive – October 1-November 15.  If you have any books to donate, in good condition, suitable for children from pre-school to high school, please bring them to the studio.  They will be distributed to children in inner-city schools in Chicago.

Fundraising Benefit Event – November 8 – This will be a gala event at the DoubleTree Hotel in Skokie from 6:30pm-11pm.  “Wine and Dine Around the World” is the theme.  Gourmet food paired with fine wine will be featured, as well as a silent auction, raffle, entertainment and dancing (including dance lessons).  Tickets are $65 per person ($75 at the door).  If you would like to purchase tickets, donate an item for the silent auction, buy raffle tickets (for cases of wine), advertise in our program booklet, or just donate to the Rotary Club, please let me know.  This could be a fun evening out for you and your friends, and you would be supporting a worthy cause.

Looking for an Training Partner

We have a client who is looking to share a training session with one or two others.  She trains with Helane Hurwith at 6pm and can be flexible for Monday, Wednesday or Friday.  Let us know if you are interested in adding a training session.