Skeletal muscle and abdominal fat are a dangerous combination for older people who have difficulty walking. A study conducted by researchers at the Federal University of San Carlos (UFSCar) in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in collaboration with colleagues at University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom, found that walking speed in the elderly was significantly reduced. Is shown. It has these two physical properties.
slow walking This is a natural result of the aging process, but sudden slowdowns in walking speed can cause mobility problems. Routine activities, such as crossing the road before the traffic lights change, become increasingly difficult, and worsening conditions increase the risk of falls and can lead to a gradual loss of independence.
“Our comparative analysis has shown that walking speed slows down primarily in the following cases: Abdominal fat Was associated with weak muscles. Tiago da Silva Alexandre, a professor of geriatrics at the Center for Biohealth Sciences, Federal University of San Carlos, said: -UFSCar), and the last author of a paper on research published in the journal Age and aging..
The study analyzed data from 2,294 people over the age of 60 who participated in the UK Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA). It was supported by FAPESP through Young Researcher Grants and PhDs. scholarship.
Participants were divided into four groups, neither dynapenic nor abdominal obesity, abdominal obesity only, dynapenic only, and both dynapenic and abdominal obesity, based on ELSA data for walking speed and weakness (dynapenia).
None of the participants had problems with mobility or walking speed at the start of the measurement. Walking speed Abdominal obesity Dynapenia in the following 8 years of monitoring.
According to Roberta de Oliveira Maximo, the unrestricted baseline walking speed of people in this age group, who are candidates for the PhD UFSCar Graduate Program in Physical Therapy and the lead author of the treatise, is 0.8 m / s (or 2.88). It was defined as km / h). “Participants with abdominal obesity and weakness showed a loss of 0.15 m / s over 8 years. At this speed, there may be times when they cannot cross the street within the time allowed by the signal. ., “She said.
In another study published in 2017, based on data from another epidemiological study, 97.8% of the elderly sample in the city of São Paulo was fast enough to cross the street when the pedestrian traffic light was green. It was shown that he could not walk. This study, called SABE and conducted by the University of São Paulo School of Public Health (FSP-USP), did not analyze the correlation between abdominal fat, skeletal muscle, and walking speed.
Obesity and inflammation
UFSCar researchers noted that abdominal fat accumulation activates an inflammatory cascade that consumes muscle mass and reduces strength. “Therefore, the concept of dynapenic abdominal obesity that we have been studying in our research group for several years,” Alexander told Agência FAPESP. “Previous studies have shown a correlation between these very common characteristics of the population and changes in falls, lipids, carbohydrates, glucose, cholesterol metabolism, incapacity, and even increased risk of death. But this is the first study to relate them to mobility. ”
Abdominal obesity was defined as a waist circumference of more than 102 cm in men and 88 cm in women. Dynapenia was defined as a grip strength of less than 26 kg for men and less than 16 kg for women.
Alexandre elaborated on the association between fat accumulation, muscle weakness, and loss of athletic performance, stating that decreased subcutaneous fat and increased abdominal fat were normal with increasing age. “Abdominal fat is more common in men. In women, fat tends to build up around the thighs and lower back, but after menopausal hormones drop, fat also builds up in the abdomen. An inflammatory cascade occurs. Accumulation of abdominal fat consumes muscle mass and reduces muscle strength, while at the same time impairing muscle nerve control. As a result, strength is steadily lost and fat Accumulates, “he explained.
Therefore, for researchers, healthcare professionals measure abdominal fat and logic The strength of clinics and hospitals to predict slow walking speed. “Lower walking speed It is an important indicator.It suggests Mobility issuesIncreased risk of falls and potential incompetence senior citizen“The purpose of this study was to show the usefulness of this predictor for the medical team. A significant number of older people have weak muscles and accumulated tummy fat. Both exercise training and diet. You can fix it with. ”
Roberta de Oliveira Maximo et al., Dynapenia, abdominal obesity, or both: Which accelerates the slowdown most? , Age and aging (2021). DOI: 10.1093 / aging / afab093
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Elderly people with weak abdominal fat and skeletal muscle are more likely to develop mobility problems
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