Wouldn’t it be remarkable to have one way to predict future hip fracture risk?
Now, thanks to curious Finnish researchers, we have not just one, but three simple tests that can give us better insight into who is likely to break their hip down the road. After some study they settled on three physical tests, failure of which they thought might indicate that one was headed for a hip fracture. According to their findings presented at the recent ASBMR meeting, the highly predictive tests were:
Researchers had 2,791 women with the average age of 59 complete the tests — and then patiently waited 15 years to see who broke their hips.
What Researchers Discovered
Fifteen years later, researchers compared the rate of hip fracture from those women passing all tests to those women who had failed one or more of the tests. Here’s what they discovered:
• Women at age 59 failing any one of these tests had four times the risk for hip fracture, plus any fracture and even death.
• The strongest single determinant for hip fracture risk was the inability to stand on one leg for 10 seconds. In the study, failing this test at age 59 was associated with over eight times increase in hip fracture risk over the next 15 years.
• The inability to squat, touch the floor and stand back up was linked to a 5.2 times increase in hip fracture.
• Those with lowest grip strength at age 59 (or the bottom ¼ of women tested) ended up with over a four-fold increase in hip fracture as compared to women who passed the balance and squatting tests and were in the top ¾ of those tested.
What Does This Mean for You?
I’m encouraged that this research focuses on activities which suggest general fitness —and they are ones we can all practice to help minimize hip fracture risk. I suggest all women consider the following:
1. Balance is of utmost importance, if you do not fall you will not fracture a hip. If you can’t stand on one leg for 10 seconds at any age, I recommend look into exercise to enhance balance. For balance, I favor mindful exercises like Tai Chi and Qi Gong.
2. Leg strength and flexibility are hip-protective. Develop a leg strengthening exercise program. And the next time you are sitting on the floor or squatting, practice getting without using your hands. Full body strength can be enhanced with my Exercising for Bone Health DVD or the Skeletal Fitness DVD.
3. Diminished grip strength is repeatedly associated with vertebral fracture risk, and now we see it linked to hip fracture as well. If those jars are getting hard to open, it’s time to exercise your arms and hands. I like using the isometric OsteoBall exerciser to enhance arm and wrist strength.
For more information about exercise and bone health, read my article here.
Rikkonen, T. (Sept. 12, 2014) Simple functional tests predict hip fracture and mortality in postmenopausal women: 15 year follow-up. ASBMR abstract FRO455, ASBMR Annual Meeting.