A slower gait is a natural result of the aging process, but mobility problems can occur if gait speed decreases sharply.
A study conducted by researchers from the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, in association with colleagues from University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom, points to a significant loss of speed at the time to walk in older people who have weak muscles and abdominal fat .
The combination of both
The UFSCar researchers observed that an accumulation of abdominal fat activates an intense inflammatory cascade, consuming muscle mass and reducing strength. The study analyzed data from 2,294 people aged 60 and over who participated in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA).
As explained by Tiago da Silva Alexandre, professor at the Department of Gerontology, Center for Biological and Health Sciences, Federal University of São Carlos:
Our comparative analysis showed that loss of gait speed occurs mainly when abdominal fat and weak muscles are associated. Gait speed did not decrease as dramatically in older people who only had abdominal fat or only weak muscles.
Participants were divided into four groups based on their ELSA data for gait speed and muscle weakness (dynapenia): not abdominally obese or dinapenic, abdominally obese only, abdominally obese only, and both abdominally and dinapenic.
None of the participants had problems with mobility or gait speed when the measurement began. Gait speed decreased more in people with abdominal obesity and dinapenia in the next eight years of follow-up .
Abdominal obesity was defined as a waist circumference greater than 102 cm for men and 88 cm for women. Dynapenia was defined as a grip strength of less than 26 kg for men and 16 kg for women.