Belly bulge linked to later physical decline, study finds

Belly bulge linked to later physical decline, study finds
Belly bulge linked to later physical decline, study finds

Editor’s note: Seek advice from a health care provider before beginning any exercise program.


If you’re a man or woman approaching 50, take a look at your height. If you’re like a lot of people, you may have to bend over a bit to see your feet. Yes, it’s the dreadful belly bulge – that expanding waistline that can often overwhelm you with age, much like a receding hairline or extra wrinkles.

Hard to fight, it almost feels like a rite of passage, just part of the cycle of life, right? But a new study has found that allowing your middle to grow will do more than send you buying the next size in panties – it can also hurt your physical abilities later in life.

The study, which followed 4,509 people aged 45 or older in Norway for more than two decades, found that participants who had a large or moderately large waist circumference at the start of the study were 57% more likely to be “frail” than those with a normal waist circumference.

But frailty is not that “tottering” elderly person bent over a cane that comes to mind. Instead, frailty includes poor grip strength, slower walking speed, general exhaustion, unintentional weight loss, and low physical activity.

People who were obese at the start of the study, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 and above, were also 2.5 times 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 BMJ Open magazine.

There could be several reasons, according to the study authors. Obesity leads to increased inflammation of fat cells, which can damage muscle fibers “resulting in reduced muscle strength and function,” study co-author Shreeshti Uchai, a doctoral student in nutritional epidemiology at the University of Oslo in Tromsø, Norway, and his colleagues wrote.

The findings underscore the need to control both overall weight gain and any increase in waist circumference, and to broaden the definition of frailty, the authors concluded.

“In the context of a rapidly aging population and growing obesity epidemic, growing evidence recognizes the ‘fat and frail’ elderly subgroup, contrary to the view of frailty solely as a wasting disorder,” they wrote.

Exercise can help counter the increasing frailty that aging can bring. Adults should perform muscle-strengthening exercises involving all major muscle groups at least two or more days each week, in addition to exercising at least two hours and 30 minutes per week at a moderate intensity, according to the U.S. Department health and social 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 Grossman School, told CNN. of Medicine from New York University.

To stay strong and healthy, try doing both aerobics and resistance training.

They “seem to work together and help each other get 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 the best and probably most closely mimics the activities of our ancestors, which helped determine our current gene sets.”

To get started with weight training, CNN fitness contributor Dana Santas, a mind-body coach in professional sports, suggests mastering bodyweight movements first before moving on to free weights.

Try This 10 Minute Bodyweight Workout

Get all the details on these exercises and more by signing up for CNN’s Fitness, But Better newsletter series, a seven-part, expert-backed guide that can help you get into a healthy routine.

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