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This observational study assessed vertical impacts experienced in older adults as part of their day-to-day physical activity using accelerometry and questionnaire data. Population-based older adults experienced very limited high-impact activity. The accelerometry method utilised appeared to be valid based on comparisons between different cohorts and with self-reported activity. INTRODUCTION: We aimed to validate a novel method for evaluating day-to-day higher impact weight-bearing physical activity (PA) in older adults, thought to be important in protecting against osteoporosis, by comparing results between four cohorts varying in age and activity levels, and with self-reported PA levels. METHODS: Participants were from three population-based cohorts, MRC National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD), Hertfordshire Cohort Study (HCS) and Cohort for Skeletal Health in Bristol and Avon (COSHIBA), and the Master Athlete Cohort (MAC). Y-axis peaks (reflecting the vertical when an individual is upright) from a triaxial accelerometer (sampling frequency 50 Hz, range 0-16 g) worn at the waist for 7 days were classified as low (0.5-1.0 g), medium (1.0-1.5 g) or higher (≥1.5 g) impacts. RESULTS: There were a median of 90, 41 and 39 higher impacts/week in NSHD (age 69.5), COSHIBA (age 76.8) and HCS (age 78.5) participants, respectively (total n = 1512). In contrast, MAC participants (age 68.5) had a median of 14,322 higher impacts/week. In the three population cohorts combined, based on comparison of beta coefficients, moderate-high-impact activities as assessed by PA questionnaire were suggestive of stronger association with higher impacts from accelerometers (0.25 [0.17, 0.34]), compared with medium (0.18 [0.09, 0.27]) and low impacts (0.13 [0.07,0.19]) (beta coefficient, with 95 % CI). Likewise in MAC, reported moderate-high-impact activities showed a stronger association with higher impacts (0.26 [0.14, 0.37]), compared with medium (0.14 [0.05, 0.22]) and low impacts (0.03 [-0.02, 0.08]). CONCLUSIONS: Our new accelerometer method appears to provide valid measures of higher vertical impacts in older adults. Results obtained from the three population-based cohorts indicate that older adults generally experience very limited higher impact weight-bearing PA.

Original publication




Journal article


Osteoporos int

Publication Date





1001 - 1011


Accelerometry, Bone, Older adults, Physical activity, Accelerometry, Aged, Cohort Studies, Exercise, Female, Geriatric Assessment, Health Status, Humans, Male, Osteogenesis, Reproducibility of Results, Self Report, Social Class, Surveys and Questionnaires, Walking, Weight-Bearing