Weight Loss Effective In Preventing Falls For The Obese
A study by Michael Madigan, Ph.D., found that obese persons who lost even less than 10 percent of their body weight (about 25 pounds for a 300-pound person) or more significantly improved their balance.
Madigan and his study team used a fall test where subjects were held in a leaning-forward position, released, and then challenged to recover their balance. Computer simulations were then used to determine how much weight loss improved balance. When subjects lost around 8.5 percent of their body weight, they were able to regain balance from a starting lean position one degree larger than before weight loss.
"Studies have shown that obese persons fall nearly twice as much as non-obese individuals," Madigan said. "Falls have also been reported as the most common cause of injury for the obese. Losing even just a small amount of weight can improve balance and potentially reduce this risk."
And, Madigan says, so can strength training - although more strength training than weight loss is needed to improve balance. Computer simulations also showed subjects who increased their strength by around 15 percent experienced a similar level of improved balance as the 8.5-percent weight loss group.
"How an obese person chooses to improve their balance, whether through weight loss or increased strength training, is a personal choice," Madigan said. "Ideally, those with obesity would strive to do both, in addition to an aerobic fitness program, to stave off numerous diseases and other negative obesity side effects in addition to improving balance."
American College of Sports Medicine
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