Editor’s note: Seek the advice of a health care provider before starting an exercise program.
If you are a man or a woman approaching 50, look at your waist. If you’re like many people, you may have to bend over a bit to see your feet. Yes, it’s that terrible bulge in your stomach, that expanding waistline that can often creep up as you age, like a receding hairline or additional wrinkles.
Hard to fight, almost seems like a rite of passage, just part of the cycle of life, right? But a new study has found that allowing your midsection to expand will do more than send you shopping for the next panty size, it can also harm your physical abilities later in life.
The study, which followed 4,509 people aged 45 and older in Norway for more than two decades, found that participants who had a high or moderately high waist circumference at the start of the study were 57% more likely to be “frail” than those with a normal waist.
But frailty is not that “wobbly” old man bent over a cane that comes to mind. Instead, frailty includes poor grip strength, slower walking speed, general exhaustion, unintentional weight loss, and little physical activity.
People who were obese at the start of the study, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, were also 2.5 more likely to be frail than those with a normal BMI (18.5 to 24.9 ), according to the published study. January 23, 2023, in the BMJ Open magazine.
There could be several reasons, according to the study authors. Obesity leads to increased inflammation in fat cells, which can damage muscle fibers “resulting in reduced muscle strength and function,” said study co-author Shreeshti Uchai, a PhD researcher. in nutritional epidemiology from the University of Oslo in Tromsø, Norway, and his colleagues wrote.
The results highlight the need to be aware of overall weight gain and any increase in waist circumference, and to broaden the definition of frailty, the authors concluded.
“In a context where the population is aging rapidly and the obesity epidemic is increasing, growing evidence recognizes the ‘fat and frail’ subgroup of older people in contrast to viewing frailty only as a wasting disorder,” they wrote.
Exercise can help counteract the increased frailty that aging can bring. Adults should perform muscle-strengthening exercises that engage all major muscle groups at least two or more days a week, in addition to exercising at least two hours and 30 minutes a week at a moderate intensity, according to the Department of Health. and US Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
Reducing body fat and building lean muscle can help improve balance and posture, Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of Atria New York City and clinical associate professor of medicine at the University’s Grossman School of Medicine, previously told CNN. from New York.
To stay strong and healthy, try to do aerobic and strength exercises.
They “seem to work together and help each other move toward better outcomes,” said Dr. William Roberts, a professor in the department of family medicine and community health at the University of Minnesota Medical School. “A balanced program of strength and aerobic activity is probably best and likely most closely mimics the activities of our ancestors, which helped determine our current gene pools.”
To get started with strength exercises, CNN fitness contributor Dana Santas, a mind-body coach in professional sports, suggests first mastering bodyweight movements before moving on to free weights.
Try This 10-Minute Bodyweight Workout
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