It’s well documented that being overweight leads to a variety of health problems such as heart disease and diabetes, but a new study shows that being fit vs. fat can mean living independently longer.
The study, Overweight Older Women Have Less Leg Strength, Power, done by the University of New Hampshire kinesiology department, measured leg strength, walking speed, and power of overweight and normal weight women.The overweight women had an average of 24 percent lower strength and 38 percent less power — factors that affect activities of daily living like getting up from a chair or climbing stairs.
In other words, extra body fat limits mobility. It’s evident in the popularity of scooters in grocery stores that an increasing number of people need help. As the population ages and gets fatter, the situation is bound to get worse.
The study recommends that overweight people improve their strength-to-weight ratio by either losing weight or gaining strength. The author says it’s easier for older people to gain strength than to lose weight. We can assume that most overweight people have tried to lose weight and failed, but maybe they haven’t been motivated to try strength training. The professor says that “even the oldest old people can have dramatic increases in strength,” if they fatigue their muscles by doing 8-15 reps.
It seems so basic for those of us who work out regularly, but maybe not for Grandma.