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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.
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.
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.
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]).
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.
- Older adults
- Physical activity
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