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02-05-2012 | Bone health | Article

Active commuting lowers wrist fracture risk in women

Abstract

Free abstract

MedWire News: Women who regularly walk to work have a lower risk for sustaining a low-trauma wrist fracture than women who commute by car or bus, Swedish researchers report.

"Wrist fracture is the most common fragility fracture among perimenopausal and younger postmenopausal women in the USA and northern Europe," explain Undis Englund and co-authors in Osteoporosis International.

To address the lack of prospective studies examining the association between physical activity and the risk for wrist fractures, Englund and team studied data for approximately 35,000 people participating in the Umeå Fracture and Osteoporosis study.

Among the participants, there were 376 women with wrist fractures who had reported data regarding their commuting habits, occupational, and leisure physical activity, before they sustained their fracture.

Each fracture case was compared with at least one control drawn from the same cohort and matched for age and week of reporting data. Mean age at baseline was 54.3 years, and mean age at fracture was 60.3 years.

Multivariate analysis adjusted for height, body mass index, smoking, and menopausal status showed that highly active commuters (ie, those who walked to work for at least three of the four seasons) had a significant 52% lower risk for sustaining a wrist fracture than those who commuted by car or bus.

Leisure time activities such as dancing and snow shoveling were also associated with a lower fracture risk (odd ratios=0.58 and 0.63, respectively), whereas occupational activity, training, and leisure walking or cycling were unrelated to fracture risk.

Englund and team point out that snow shoveling is a seasonal activity that is highly weight-loading and physically demanding. Therefore women performing this activity are probably strong and in good physical shape, which may lower their fracture risk.

Dancing may lower fracture risk by improving balance, thereby reducing the risk for falls, says the team.

The researchers conclude that their findings do not confirm cross-sectional studies reporting that physically active middle-aged women are at a higher risk for sustaining a wrist fracture than more sedentary ones.

"Instead physical activity, at least commuting activities such as walking and bicycling, together with some leisure activities such as dancing and snow shoveling seems to be associated with lower wrist fracture risk in our study," they write.

MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Laura Cowen

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