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Keywords:

  • bone;
  • elderly cohort;
  • calcium;
  • physical activity

Abstract

A population-based study of 1363 older women showed that the 24% who achieved high physical activity and dietary calcium intakes had a 5.1% higher hip BMD than those who did not, supporting the concept that lifestyle factors play an important role in the maintenance of lower extremity bone mass in older women.

Introduction: Although there is general agreement that increased dietary calcium consumption and exercise can slow bone loss in older women, the amount required to have this effect in an older population remains uncertain. This study was devised to examine the effects of calcium consumption (CC) and physical activity (PA) (lifestyle management) on bone mass in an older female population.

Materials and Methods: Using a cross-sectional study design, a population-based sample of older women (mean age, 75 ± 3 years) had hip and heel bone mass measured using DXA (Hologic 4500A; n = 1076) and quantitative ultrasound (QUS, Lunar Achilles; n = 1363), respectively. CC and PA were measured by a validated habitual food frequency and activity questionnaire, respectively. Dose-response effects of PA and CC on bone mass were examined using ANOVA.

Results and Conclusions: Division of the PA and CC into tertiles best described the dose-response effects. After adjustment for CC, age, weight, alcohol consumption, and cigarette smoking, high PA compared with medium or low PA was associated with higher hip BMD and heel QUS (total hip BMD, 3.1%; p < 0.001; QUS stiffness, 2.7%; p = 0.002). After adjustment for PA and covariates, high or medium CC compared with low CC was associated with higher total hip BMD (1.8%; p = 0.027), with no effect at the QUS heel site. PA and CC were dichotomized at the cut-points for effects on BMD. The combination of high PA and CC, achieved by 24% of the population, was associated with a total hip BMD that was 5.1% higher (34% of SD) than those individuals in the low PA and CC group. Stiffness was 3.6% (23% of SD) higher in the high PA and CC group than in the low PA and CC group. If the whole population undertook and achieved a high PA and high CC lifestyle, the population risk of hip fractures may be expected to be reduced by about 17% in this age group as a result of beneficial effects on the musculoskeletal system.