Published Papers - Abstract 308

Heesch K, Byles J & Brown W. Prospective association between physical activity and falls in community-dwelling older women. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2008; 62(5): 421-426

Objective: To explore associations between physical activity and risk of falls and fractured bones in community-dwelling older women. Design, setting and participants: This was a prospective observational survey with 3- and 6-year follow-ups. The sample included 8188 healthy, community-dwelling women, aged 70-75 years in 1996, who completed surveys as participants in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. Women who reported a recent serious injury from falling were excluded. Outcomes were reports of a fall to the ground, injury from a fall, and a fractured bone in 1999 and 2002. The main predictor variable was physical activity level in 1996, categorized based on weekly frequency as none/very low, low, moderate, high, and very high. Covariates were demographic and health-related variables. Logistic regression models were computed separately for each outcome in 1999 and 2002.Main results: In multivariable models, very high physical activity was associated with decreased risk of reporting a fall in 1999 (odds ratio 0.67, 95% CI 0.47 to 0.95) and in 2002 (odds ratio 0.64, 95% CI 0.43 to 0.96). High/very high physical activity was associated with decreased risk of a fractured bone in 2002 (odds ratio 0.53, 95% CI 0.34 to 0.83). No significant association was found between physical activity and injury from a fall. Conclusions: The results suggest that at least daily moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity is required for the primary prevention of falls to the ground and fractured bones in women aged 70-75 years.