Stronger and leaner – an antidote to incontinence?
The results of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society show that older women may be less likely to be affected by incontinence if they lose a little weight and increase their strength slightly.
The three-year-long University of California study, which involved 1500 women in their 70s, found that a decrease in body mass index (a rough estimate of a person’s body fat based on weight and height) of just 5 percent or more resulted in a 50 per cent less likelihood of stress urinary incontinence.
The results also showed that a drop in the women’s hand grip strength of just 5 per cent put women at 60 per cent higher risk of experiencing stress incontinence.
The study authors suggested that losing weight – even for a woman in her 70s – would help alleviate stress urinary incontinence by reducing pressure on the bladder. Similarly, hand grip strength, which is considered an indicator of overall muscle strength, may indicate stronger pelvic floor muscles that are able to withstand more pressure from activities such as lifting, sneezing and laughing. The study’s lead author, Dr Anne Suskind, said the results showed no improvement in the incidence of urge urinary incontinence, which was often due to neurological issues.