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Elderly obese women display the greatest improvement in stair climbing performance after a 3-week body mass reduction program

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether stair climbing performance and body composition are similarly affected by a body mass reduction (BMR) program in obese individuals of different gender, age and body mass index (BMI) level.

DESIGN: Longitudinal, clinical intervention study entailing energy-restricted diet (5023–7535 kJ/day), nutritional education, psychological counselling and moderate physical activity (indoor cycling, outdoor walking, gymnastics routines, five sessions/week) during a 3-week period.

SUBJECTS: A total of 466 male and 807 female subjects categorized as a function of gender, age (< vs ≥50 y) and BMI (< vs ≥40 kg/m2).

MEASUREMENTS: Body mass, stair climbing time and power before and after the BMR program. Fat-free mass and fat mass were also evaluated by bioimpedance analysis, in a representative subgroup of 160 patients, to evaluate the relation between fat-free mass and power output.

RESULTS: Body mass, fat-free mass and fat mass significantly decreased following the BMR program (P<0.001), with male subjects reducing body mass and fat-free mass more than and fat mass less than the female subjects. Stair climbing time decreased (P<0.001) and therefore anaerobic power significantly increased 9.7% after the treatment. The greatest improvement in stair climbing performance was observed in obese women aged ≥50 y. Significant inverse correlations were found between initial power or fat-free mass level and respective percent increases (R=−0.35/−0.37, P<0.001) and between BMR-induced percent changes in body mass and power (R=−0.13, P<0.001).

CONCLUSION: Subjects with the lowest baseline level in stair climbing performance (and probably with the lowest amount of fat-free mass), that is, obese women aged more than 50 y, obtained the largest enhancement after the 3-week BMR program, likely improving overall functional capacities and resulting in greater independence during daily-living activities in such a population.

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Acknowledgements

This study is partially supported by Progetto di Ricerca Corrente, Istituto Auxologico Italiano, IRCCS, Milan, Italy. The technical assistance of Mr S Ottolini was greatly appreciated. We are indebted to Drs G Silvestri, A Tibaldi and M Resnik and to Ms F Pera of the 3rd Division of Metabolic Diseases for their qualified assistance during the execution of the test.

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Sartorio, A., Lafortuna, C., Agosti, F. et al. Elderly obese women display the greatest improvement in stair climbing performance after a 3-week body mass reduction program. Int J Obes 28, 1097–1104 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0802702

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Keywords

  • muscle power
  • stair climbing
  • BMI
  • sarcopenia

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