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Cold in the home could reduce mobility

20th June 2014

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

A new study has found that reducing the temperature in the home could reduce the level of mobility in older women. The European study found that just 45 minutes of exposure to colder temperatures impacted on elderly women’s muscle responses and walking ability. Although stair lifts and other aids could help in such situations, particularly with heating coming at great financial expense, ensuring that a hope is kept warm could help elderly residents live safely and independently. 

While home stair lifts with arm rests can dramatically improve the level of elderly residents’ independence, the study found that after 45 minutes, even sitting in a chair and getting back up again was more difficult for those in a colder environment – a woman’s speed of going from sitting to standing fell by 10 per cent in such conditions.

Explosive muscle power

The study, which took into account the findings of tests conducted on 88 women over the age of 70, discovered that what is actually most important when improving the reaction times to a fall is not all to do with muscle strength itself, but explosive muscle power, which is the speed with which a muscle responds. It is this explosive muscle power that is reduced when the subject is left in cold conditions for a length of time.

While walk in showers and hand rails can work a long way towards the prevention of such falls in the bathroom, it stands to reason that such measures will work far better with faster muscle reaction times. The findings of the report suggest that keeping your house warmer may be more important to your health than you might think, with the optimum temperature for the prevention of fall risk being 20?C.

The findings prove particularly worrying with the rise in energy prices, but, as the research suggests, it may very well be a price worth paying in order to maintain health and independence in later life.

Image Credit: Gabriel White (flickr.com)

This content was written by Emily Bray. Please feel free to visit my Google+ Profile to read more stories.