Overweight seniors at a higher risk of falling

Bryan Aldrige

September 20, 2011

A new study shows that senior, overweight women have less leg strength, putting them at a higher risk for falling.

Researchers from the University of New Hampshire published their study in the Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology.

Scientists measured participants strength ability through calculating the impact of excess weight on peoples' leg strength, walking speed and power. Such factors are commonly affected by daily activities such as climbing stairs or getting out of a chair.

Researchers found that when comparing participants strength-to-weight ratios, overweight women had an average of 24 percent less leg strength than those of normal weight. When power, or the rate at which strength is applied, was calculated, those in the overweight group showed 38 percent less power than those of average weight. This puts overweight women at a much greater risk of falling.

"Everything pointed to the fact that it was the extra fat that these people were carrying that was really limiting their mobility," lead author Dain LaRouche said.

Those worried about an overweight parent living on their own may want to start them on a weight-loss routine to increase mobility. Installing a senior alert system is another way to know a loved one is safe, as a senior wears the device around their neck and can easily call for help if they fall.