Sports participation reduces fracture risk in older men: study

Playing sport may help protect men over 60 from broken bones, according to new research.

Researchers from Deakin University’s Epi-Centre for Healthy Ageing at Barwon Health have found that participation in sporting activity is associated with a reduced risk of fracture in older men.

Although other research has investigated associations between fracture risk and any physical activity such as sport, household, leisure and work-related activity, there has been little research into the specific effects of playing sport on reducing fracture risk.

“Previous studies have shown that regular weight-bearing physical activity can reduce fracture risk through an increase in bone strength, as well as reducing falls risk by improving muscle strength and balance,” said lead researcher Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Kara Holloway-Kew.

“However, research also shows that structured exercise programs can be difficult to stick to, whereas playing sport is more likely to be maintained because it’s chosen for enjoyment and has an associated social aspect.

“That’s why we wanted to look specifically at whether sports participation impacts on the risk of fracture in older Australian men.

[testimonial_text]We found that men over 60 who participated in sporting activities were less likely to sustain any fracture or major osteoporotic fracture over a six year follow-up period.[/testimonial_text]
[testimonial_picture name=”Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Kara Holloway-Kew” details=”IMPACT”]
Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Kara Holloway-Kew[/testimonial_picture]

The sample of 656 men aged 60-96 reported participation in sports such as lawn bowls, fishing, golf, running, squash, swimming, sailing, tennis, ten pin bowling, table tennis and yachting.

Dr Holloway-Kew said there were a number of reasons why sporting activity might help reduce the risk of fractures.

“It could be because playing sport simply keeps the person active and fit – improving bone and muscle strength – but it could also be because sports such as lawn bowls and golf require good balance, and that’s important for reducing falls,” she explained.

She said the findings warranted more research into exactly how sports participation helped reduce the risk of fractures.

The research, published today in the journal “Archives of Osteoporosis”, drew on data from the Epi-Centre for Healthy Ageing’s unique longitudinal population study, the Geelong Osteoporosis Study (GOS) and was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the Geelong Regional Medical Foundation, Arthritis Foundation of Australia, Perpetual Trustees, and Amgen Europe (GmBH).

The Epi-Centre for Healthy Ageing is part of Deakin’s strategic research centre for Innovation in Mental, Physical and Clinical Treatment (IMPACT). The Geelong Osteoporosis Study has collected health data on the Geelong region population for more than twenty years, which has contributed to local and international studies on a range of health conditions from musculoskeletal disorders to mental health.

Published by Deakin Research on 23 April 2018

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