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Physical activity linked to lower fracture risk in older women

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Regular physical activity — including activities such as walking, gardening and household chores — can help older women avoid fracture, researchers have shown.

The US study included more than 77,000 participants in the Women’s Health Initiative, who were followed up over 14 years.

During the follow-up period, one in three of the participants (33%) reported experiencing at least one fracture.

Further analysis revealed that women who did the highest amount of physical activity — approximately 35 minutes or more of daily recreational and household activities — had an 18% lower risk of hip fracture and 6% lower risk of total fracture.

“These findings provide evidence that fracture reduction is among the many positive attributes of regular physical activity in older women,” commented Jean Wactawski-Wende, PhD, study co-author and dean of the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions.

“Fracture is very common in postmenopausal women, and is associated with loss of independence, physical limitations and increased mortality,” Wactawski-Wende added.

Figures from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) show that in the UK about 10% of people with a hip fracture die within one month, and about one third within 12 months.

“Modest activities, including walking, can significantly reduce the risk of fracture, which can, in turn, lower the risk of death,” Wactawski-Wende said.

The main message, according to study first author Michael LaMonte, PhD, research associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health at the University at Buffalo, is “sit less, move more, and every movement counts.”

The findings have been published in medical journal JAMA Network Open.