Effect of season on physical activity score, back extensor muscle strength, and lumbar bone mineral density



Seasonal variation in physical activity, back extensor muscle strength (BES), and bone mineral density (BMD) of the lumbar spine was studied in 65 healthy postmenopausal women. Physical activity score (PAS) was assessed with an ordinal scale (0-18); this score and the BES were obtained monthly for 2 years (25 readings). BMD values were obtained semiannually (5 readings). A periodic (cosine) regression model was fit to each subject's PAS and BES data to obtain individual estimates of the annual peak day d and the average annual range due to seasonality. There was a strong (P < 0.001) seasonal pattern in physical activity; August 3 was the average peak day, and the seasonal range was 2.0 PAS units. There was modest (P = 0.047) seasonality in BES; June 6 was the estimated peak day, and the seasonal range was 8.22 pounds (about 7% of the mean). BMD averaged 0.015 g/cm2 higher in August through November than February through May (P = 0.002), and the highest monthly average BMD was in August. This seasonal range of 1.4% is larger than the average annual decline with age in BMD observed in longitudinal studies of postmenopausal women. The results of this study have important implications for the planning of longitudinal studies involving changes in physical activity or bone mass in geographic areas with diverse seasons.