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Bungalow legs.

(91 Posts)
kircubbin2000 Sun 07-Aug-22 11:27:50

I have been having some problems with my hip lately and have had to cut out some of my activities. However I got a shock yesterday while visiting my friend at her new house.As we had a look round she asked me if I would like to see the bedrooms upstairs. After 3 steps on her steep staircase I realised I was not going to make it and had to come down!

coastalgran Tue 09-Aug-22 12:25:41

I haven't lived in a house with stairs since 2003, I can manage some stairs in some places with ease but really steep shallow stairs are tricky. I prefer single storey living less walking about and no need for two vacuum cleaners.

PamQS Tue 09-Aug-22 12:29:59

Interesting point! We’re thinking about moving when DH retires, and I’ve been wondering about a bungalow. I can pull myself up the stairs by using the banister, but the problem I have is going up and down the stairs when I am carrying things. I’d rather struggle with the stairs than lose mobility!

Jess20 Tue 09-Aug-22 12:30:30

After a few years in a ground floor flat we moved to a 4 story terraced house. We are a great deal fitter tbh but think it'll not be that long before we move on again, 2-4years and we'll be looking at bungalows I expect. I loved living on one floor, but it can affect your ability to run up and down stairs..

June52 Tue 09-Aug-22 12:43:02

We bought our bungalow when we were in our mid 40s mainly because of my breathing problems.
As it has a steep drive and steps up the garden my legs still work. Although I do have a bad hip. I think that bungalow, house or flat if you have a problem with mobility you are going to struggle wherever you live

Treetops05 Tue 09-Aug-22 12:48:28


I think stairs are good exercise and I wouldn't put in a stairlift or lift until I was sure I couldn't manage them. No bungalow for me. I prefer the space of a house.

We moved from a bungalow to a house...we had to give furniture away before the move and more after...not all bungalows are tiny! In fact we have decided to move into a bungalow again on our next move.

grandtanteJE65 Tue 09-Aug-22 12:53:18

My parents too moved to a house when they retired that had the entire living space on the ground floor and a loft that my mother turned into a sewing-room, so she could get away from television! It was too cold to use in the winter, as she was too mean to heat it, so come the first spring, she no longer could readily go up and down stairs.

We in our turn moved to a house with stairs, so we both still manage them, but DH due to poor health spent far too much time during the day sitting on his sofa, and is now working hard to regain, not his ability to manage stairs but to walk 500 yards on the flat.

So yes, bungalow legs is a thing, but having a house with stairs is no guarantee that other forms of motion will remain possible. Even if you have no health problems, it seems to be a case of "use it, or loose it" as we age.

Kircubbin, I hope you can get help with your hip, and please do check with your doctor or a physiotherapist which excercises you can do, and which you should not do.

farmgran Tue 09-Aug-22 12:56:46

Most houses in NZ are bungalows and I'm loosing muscle tone in my thighs really fast. I'm going to have to do something about it as when I stand up from sitting my thighs ache like mad.

Fleurpepper Tue 09-Aug-22 13:03:59

How interesting. Never heard of this. All the people I know who sold their houses to buy bungalows did so because they had increasing mobility and knee/hip issues.

Nannapat1 Tue 09-Aug-22 13:04:57

My father lived in a bungalow for many years yet had no trouble in climbing stairs when he visited us in our 3 storey house. He died of cancer aged 93, heart and joints still good.
Friends who've lived in Australia for many years and have a single level property equally have no trouble with the stairs when they visit us.
I on the other hand have osteoarthritis, mainly affecting my hip joints and for many years have needed a wall or preferably a handrail when going up or down stairs even though fit enough to walk some miles.
Now after 1 THR and needing another, I find stairs challenging but can walk up and down using the bannisters for support. I have had handrails fitted to the very steep patio steps so that I can get into and enjoy the garden and again I can get up and down although it is a bit of struggle.
I'd say that if you're lucky enough to not have joint (or other) issues, stairs won't be a problem even if your home is single story. If you have mobility issues, then stairs will be a challenge, even if you have plenty of them to 'practice' on!

piano0156 Tue 09-Aug-22 13:23:23

I have to do that. My stairs are very steep so I crawl up and crawl down backwards.

jocork Tue 09-Aug-22 13:29:32

My mother lived in a house with steep narrow stairs. She always said if the stairs became too much she'd move her bed downstairs and live on one level as the bathroom was downstairs. After her last admission to hospital, social services wouldn't let her go home unless she agreed to live on the ground floor. When that happened she finally agreed to move into sheltered housing, something we'd been trying to persuade her to do for years.

I'm currently planning to move and my ideal home would be a dormer bungalow. I'd like to have a bedroom on the ground floor but 2 upstairs. They would be used for guests but one would be a craft room so I'd go up there regularly.

I spend a lot of time sitting but try to move frequently and I exercise my legs by opening and closing my manual recliner chair. It takes a bit of force and I can do about 30 repeats before it hurts or I'm out of breath. It is a good way of exercising when it's too hot to go for a walk or in the winter when it's too cold or wet! I'm not sure if it is the same leg muscles I need for stairs but it certainly gets the blood pumping so must be beneficial.

Grandma29 Tue 09-Aug-22 13:37:19

I now live in an apartment on the second floor.
I lived in a house and fortunately never had a problem with stairs. There’s a lift up to my apartment but I do try and take stairs as much as possible.

gangstergranny Tue 09-Aug-22 13:41:26

This guy is great and there are lots of other helpful videos to improve fitness for seniors. :0)

Grammaretto Tue 09-Aug-22 13:44:31

Is it the actual stairs which are important or just getting some exercise?
My NZ DS and DDiL live on one level but on the top of a steep hill. She has painful knees and is only 40 something.
I live on 3 floors but I now have a loo and a hoover on every level so I am not constantly running up or down
Perhaps I should be happy with this as it's saving certain disintegration. grin

Cabbie21 Tue 09-Aug-22 14:00:27

Saggi, that is quite a contrast between you. My DH has talked about a stair lift, but I have not encouraged the idea for the same reasons as you., though for him it is the “wobbles” on the stairs that led to the idea. He does less and less, and I do think it is a case of use it or lose it. After I have been sitting in my little “ study” upstairs for a while, my knees get very stiff, so I come downstairs one at a time until they unstiffen.

Brismum Tue 09-Aug-22 14:29:16

I had one knee joint replaced 8 years ago and the OT who did my pre-op assessment said in reply to my comment that I had no downstairs loo “that’s good stairs are good for knees “. I found initially leaving it to the last minute wasn’t a good idea but otherwise okay. Eight years on my other knee needs replacing and it is having a real impact on my mobility due to pain and the fact that it is now very distorted. I also now have severe sciatica and this aggravates the arthritis and visa versa. A catch 22 situation. I would love a downstairs loo but need to go upstairs to bed. I don’t like sleeping on the ground floor in a flat or a bungalow. I am presently waiting to have an extra bannister rail fitted and rails out of the back door to the patio and on the steps from the patio to the lawn. Even with my stick I am safer with something to hold onto with my other hand. Going upstairs at home I have one hand on the bannister and the other on a stair. Coming down is easier but both are painful but still doable. Hopefully when my other knee has been replaced things will be easier as the sciatica will hopefully go away once I am not walking so awkwardly. Meanwhile my daughter has a downstairs downstairs loo when I’m doing grandchildren care. I think if you’re pre-disposed to mobility problems you will probably get them anyway. On the other hand my mother was a classic example of use it or lose it as it hurt to try! So I try because I don’t want to lose it if I don’t have to.

Adelaide66 Tue 09-Aug-22 14:30:25

Noone has mentioned the joys of not having stairs to carpet and clean. Bungalows aren't practical for families, I've found, but ideal for the retired.

biglouis Tue 09-Aug-22 14:44:44

the problem I have is going up and down the stairs when I am carrying things

This is a major problem for those of us who live alone. I need one hand on the bannister and the other on my stick. So I put the item into a bag with long handles and put it around my neck. Obviously I cant carry anything heavy like that so it has to wait until my nephew comes.

Candelle Tue 09-Aug-22 14:51:04

Biglouis and others: have you considered using a rucksack to carry thing in? I know you would need reasonable shoulder joints to be able to use one but it is a very safe and stable way to carry items, especially anything slightly heavy. Just a thought...

Grammaretto Tue 09-Aug-22 15:04:14

Actually I lived in a bungalow for 5 years when we moved to Scotland. With 3 small DC it was very much easier than having to run up and downstairs all the time. The garden was accessable too and I missed the convenience when we moved here. But who knows how my knees would be now had we stayed there.?
It had a loft conversion, 2 bedrooms upstairs, so still had stairs to sweep.

Glorianny Tue 09-Aug-22 15:20:56

When had a knee problem my physio taught me to do squats. They are great for maintaining muscle strength. But you need to do them properly. I hold onto the end of my bed and go down. The physio tried to get me to do them against a wall with a ball behind me, but I didn't feel safe so he told me to hold onto something. The important thing is never to let your knees go further forward than the end of your toes .
There's more here

hereshoping Tue 09-Aug-22 15:55:53

I normally manage the stairs fine but my knees are aching at the moment due to a visit to Ely cathedral, I paid extra to visit the stained glass exhibition and didn't realise that it would involve going up stone circular staircase nearly to the top. Big mistake.
Our daughter is staying with us at the moment after a nasty fall that broke multiple bones in her ankle. She's being very brave but in a lot of pain.
We've had stair lift repaired for her. Luckily we never did get rid of a lot of the stuff that we had fitted for late mother in law.
Normally I go up stairs fine but use my arms to haul myself up a lot. Now I'm going up and down a lot and usually have both hands full so more weight on our knee.
But still I can't bear to wait for the stair lift, it's too slow.
So I persevere.

EkwaNimitee Tue 09-Aug-22 15:57:12

I've never heard the expression 'bungalow legs'!
DH and I eventually moved into a bungalow, we preferred them, from a house. We lived in it for 20 years but after he died I wanted a more manageable garden. There was no bungalow suitable to buy so I settled for a house. I made sure I bought one with a straight flight of stairs which would make any eventual stair lift much cheaper. After I moved in all the running up and down stairs made my knees very painful and I began to have doubts about the wisdom of my choice. It wasn't the joints that were suffering but the cartilage/ligaments. I minimised using the stairs, the pains went away and within 6 months I realised I'd developed leg muscles of steel!
So if you can manage stairs, they're good exercise. I've also read that it's good cardiac exercise.
I still very much prefer bungalows though but am not contemplating the stressful upheaval of moving again.

Taichinan Tue 09-Aug-22 16:13:03

I live in what is essentially a bungalow - but the master suite is upstairs. So far, at 81, I have no problem with going up and down the rather steep and shallow-stepped stairs, and like others I never push myself up with my hands on the arms of chairs when I rise - I've been making a point of that for the past 20 years. In my 40s and 50s I used to go to step classes and was amazed, after I moved to a place where there were no step classes, how strong they had made my thigh muscles! I haven't lost that yet either. I also do a lot of tai chi which keeps me supple and aware of how I'm moving. Sooner or later, though, I'm pretty sure weakness/infirmity will strike, as it does us all eventually, but I intend to give them a good run for their money! Stairs or no stairs, I don't think it matters so long as you are mindful and compensate. One advantage of no stairs is that you can't fall down them!!

debbiemon123 Tue 09-Aug-22 16:42:40

I’m a retired physiotherapist and used to work with the elderly in the community. There is most definitely such a thing as bungalow legs , and had to work hard with some patients to keep up the strength in their legs and ankles , which goi g up and down stairs will do . We use these muscles , not just for stairs but for mobility, kerbs , chair transfers etc , so these will deteriorate if leg muscles get weaker .