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The purpose of this study was to describe the relationships between perceived limitations in stair climbing and self-reported stair climbing activity, muscle strength, and adiposity. The study involved the cross-sectional examination of community-dwelling men (n = 32) and women (n = 107) aged at least 65 years. Perceived limitations in climbing one and several flights of stairs were identified by responses to items of the Short-Form 36. Lower limb strength was indicated by the 5 repetition sit-to-stand test. Adiposity was characterized by body mass index. Stair climbing activity was reflected by self-report of flights climbed daily. Stair climbing limitations were common among the participants. Correlational analysis showed low but significant correlations between stair climbing limitations and stair climbing activity, adiposity, and lower limb strength. Regression analysis demonstrated that the 3 independent variables combined together predicted 36.8% of the variance in limitations in climbing a single flight of stairs, and that the stair flights climbed and lower limb strength explained 22.1% of the variance in climbing several flights of stairs. While the design of the study precludes attributing cause, it appears that stair climbing limitations might be assuaged through reduction of adiposity and augmentation of lower limb strength. Stair climbing activity itself may have a direct or indirect effect on stair climbing limitations.
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