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As muscle strength and function decline with age the optimal high-impact physical activity (PA) required for bone remodelling is rarely achievable in older adults. This study aimed to explore the activity profiles of community-dwelling older men and women and to assess the relationship between individual PA profiles and lower limb bone parameters. Participants from the Hertfordshire Cohort Study wore triaxial accelerometers for 7 days and counts of low (0.5-1.0 g), medium (1.0-1.5 g), and high (> 1.5 g) vertical-impact activity were calculated. Two years later, participants underwent a pQCT scan of the tibia (4% and 38% sites) to obtain measures of bone mineral density and bone geometry. Linear regression was used to quantify associations between bone and PA loading profiles adjusting for age, sex, loading category, and BMI. Results are presented as β [95% confidence interval]. Bone and PA data were available for 82 participants. The mean (SD) age at follow-up was 81.4(2.7) years, 41.5% (n = 34) were women. The median low-impact PA count was 5281 (Inter-quartile range (IQR) 2516-12,977), compared with a median of only 189 (IQR 54-593) in medium, and 39 (IQR 9-105) in high-impact counts. Positive associations between high-impact PA and cortical area (mm2), polar SSI (mm3), and total area (mm2) at the 38% slice (6.21 [0.88, 11.54]; 61.94 [25.73, 98.14]; 10.09 [3.18, 16.99], respectively). No significant associations were found at distal tibia. These data suggest that maintaining high (> 1.5 g)-impact activity is difficult for older adults to achieve; however, even small amounts of high-impact PA are positively associated with selected cortical bone parameters 2 years later.

Original publication




Journal article


Calcified tissue international

Publication Date



MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre, Human Health and Development, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO16 6YD, UK.