For many people, moving to a bungalow makes sense – when painful or immobile joints become a problem, life without stairs is not only easier, but also much safer.
However, experts warn that stepping too early can actually accelerate the decline associated with age, leading to a phenomenon now known as “bungalow leg”.
The term refers to the gradual weakening of leg muscles that is common in people who have moved into a one-story apartment and live without the challenge of stairs.
When you stop doing things, you lose the ability to do them, says Victoria Rendle, a Devon-based physical therapist who specializes in treating the elderly [File photo]
“There is a deconditioning element associated with moving into a bungalow and there is a clear concern that moving could accelerate the decline,” says Dr. Carolyn Greig, Reader in Aging and Musculoskeletal Health at the University of Birmingham.
“Climbing stairs is a very good way to maintain or improve muscle strength and muscle strength. If there are a significant number of stairs, it is also an aerobic challenge. ‘
How much your home contributes directly to physical decline was the subject of a 2018 study in Japan in which more than 6,000 people aged 65 and over lived in either a one-story apartment building, an elevator-accessible house, or a house with Living space lived stairs that were monitored for three years.
Findings, published in the journal BMC Geriatrics, found that staircases in the home help curb age-related physical decline.
When you stop doing things, you lose the ability to do them, says Victoria Rendle, a Devon-based physical therapist who specializes in treating the elderly.
“What is common with the elderly is that the deterioration has already started before they are downsized to a bungalow. But if you then take the stairs away and lead a more sedentary life, you can further accelerate that decline. ‘
She adds, “Of course things happen as you get older, but a lot of mobility problems are due to poor exercise habits that people develop when they have a bad back or an injury, but that persist after the pain is resolved.”
“Rather than addressing underlying issues like stiff, sore, or weak muscles, there is a misconception that it’s just aging. But often these things can be addressed. It’s important to see a physical therapist who can figure out what works or not and stay as active as possible. ‘
Experts warn that stepping too early can accelerate the decline associated with age, leading to what is now known as the “bungalow leg”.
The beauty of climbing stairs is that it works four major muscle groups and keeps the most important joints strong.
“People usually think of quads that are placed on the front of the thigh,” says Victoria.
“But you also use the glutes in your buttocks, hamstrings, and calves, and you need to have good range of motion in your ankles to properly place your feet on the step. Stiff ankle joints are a common phenomenon among older customers who have moved to bungalows. ‘Moving to a bungalow often happens at a time when people are already having less muscle mass – and the adage “use it or lose it” is becoming truer than ever, says Dr. Greig.
From the age of 40, you lose 0.5 percent or a little more of your muscle mass per year. “So by 80 you have half to two-thirds of the muscle mass you had when you were younger,” says Dr. Greig.
Good muscle strength depends on four key processes. Muscles release proteins called myokines that coordinate muscle function and repair.
Then there is autophagy, the process that enables the body to cleanse damaged cells.
Third, muscles have stem cells called satellite cells that enable damaged muscle fibers to be repaired. After all, you have the mitochondria, the “batteries” in all cells that help produce energy. When this happens, the muscle can work and repair.
‘All of these four things decrease in number and efficiency with age. But the good news is that exercise improves it, even with aging muscles, ”says Victoria.
“So an athletic 80 year old could have the muscle mass and function of a much younger person. Exercise stimulates each of these processes to do more. ‘
And while many people move to a bungalow for fear of falling down stairs, the decline in muscle strength from not using stairs can make a fall more likely.
“Muscle strength is key to maintaining balance and preventing falls,” says Dr. Greig. “We know that exercise, and particularly exercise that improves balance, such as getting up from a chair, can reduce falls. So it is important to stay active.
“If someone starts to lose confidence in their home, before they take the main move of moving, occupational therapists may be able to make adjustments to the home, such as making adjustments to the home. B. installing a handrail or grab bar on top of the stairs. ‘
“People drag themselves up with their arms, and that’s not a good sign,” says Victoria. “Back pain and arthritis in the knees and hips are common things that make climbing stairs uncomfortable. At this stage, single-story living or a bungalow could be a good option. ‘
Whether moving to a bungalow is crucial now or you plan ahead, it is important to compensate for less challenging home environments.
Depending on your range of motion, there are other things you can do to exercise the same muscle groups as stairs, says Rebecca Sessions, a physical therapist at Stotfold, Bedfordshire.
“When you get up from a chair, sit down and get up three times to work your quads,” she says. “While you wait for the kettle to boil, march in place and get your knees as high as you can. If you do it five or six times a day, it builds up without you feeling like a formal exercise. ‘
Even in a bungalow, there may be a step to the front door or into the garden that can be used as part of a fitness program, says Mandy Wong Oultram, a personal trainer based in Macclesfield.
“When you go up and down the quads and hamstrings work, and you can hold a light dumbbell to make it harder. Two sets of ten to 15 repetitions per leg once a day with a 60 second break in between is a good place to start. ‘
Victoria says, “No matter how old you are, it’s important to add repetitions that gradually increase from one set of steps to two, or the number of stool elevations you do – otherwise you won’t stimulate your muscles.”
Bungalow residents should also think carefully before investing in an electric step chair. “One of the tests we use to assess the ability of older people to function is to see if they can get up from a chair without using their arms,” says Dr. Greig.
“It’s an important move because when you can’t get up from the bathroom you need help, and that’s an important compromise for physical independence.”
Instead, people should raise the height of the chair. Rebecca Session says, “If you have trouble getting in and out of your chair, buy risers for your legs or a firmer pillow to make it easier.”
The good news is that it’s never too late to improve muscle strength, says Dr. Greig.
“It depends on what stage you are at, how frail you are and what is safe to do: stairs might not be the answer, but you need something,” she says.
“When you are older it is difficult to build your muscles, but you can definitely strengthen them.”
What is inside?
This week: Berocca Orange effervescent tablets
Citric Acid: A weak edible acid found naturally in citrus fruits. Combined with sodium bicarbonate in Berocca, it has fizzy properties and creates the fizzy effect when a tablet is dripped into water.
Thiamine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Sodium Phosphate, Niacinamide, Calcium D-Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, D-Biotin, Folic Acid, and Cyanocobalamin: These are all forms of B vitamins that are important for overall health and wellbeing.
They have a direct effect on energy levels (e.g., helping metabolism and releasing energy from food), and a lack of B vitamins can make you feel drained.
Beta-Carotene: A source of vitamin A known for maintaining eye health, but also an antioxidant (which helps protect your cells) and a carotenoid which contributes to the orange color.
Viagra can improve fertility in older women. In a study of 66 women aged 38 and over, the drug resulted in an increase in IVF pregnancies when administered internally. The success rate was twice that of a placebo, reported the International Journal of Fertility. Researchers suggest that it may improve blood flow to the uterus and improve conditions for an egg to be implanted.
Health wonders in your pantry. This week: tomatoes reduce the risk of stroke
According to a study published in the journal Neurology, tomatoes reduce the risk of stroke by up to 59 percent.
This found that men with the highest versus lowest levels of lycopene in their blood – the red pigment in tomatoes – had a significantly reduced risk of stroke caused by a blood clot over the next 12 years.
Other research supports lycopene’s role in cardiovascular disease and has shown that it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. These properties could explain why lycopene has now also been linked to a lower risk of an enlarged prostate.
Cooking tomatoes with oil increases the amount of lycopene absorbed by the body, so soup and passata are good choices.