Community-based osteoporosis prevention: Physical activity in relation to bone density, fall prevention, and the effect of training programmes : The Vadstena Osteoporosis Prevention Project

Abstract: This thesis is based on studies of the ten-year community-based intervention programme entitled, the Vadstena Osteoporosis Prevention Project (VOPP). The specific aims of the research were to describe the effects of physical activity and training programmes on bone mass and balance performance in adults, to determine whether a fall risk prevention programme could motivate personal actions among the elderly, to ascertain whether the intervention programme could reduce the incidence of forearm and hip fractures.Two studies addressed training programmes for middle-aged and old people. First, VOPP participants who were aged 40–70 years and had low forearm bone mineral density (BMD) values were invited to take part in a one-year weight-bearing training study. Thirty of those individuals were included in the investigation. Additional bone mass measurements were performed at the hip and the lumbar spine, and balance and aerobic capacity were also tested. The training programme was performed twice a week (I). In the second study, healthy persons aged 70–75 years were invited to participate in a balance-training study. Fifteen persons joined an exercise group, and another fifteen were controls. The training programme comprised specific balance exercises and was carried out twice a week for nine weeks (II). The association between forearm BMD values and several lifestyle factors was explored in random samples of the population aged 20–72 years (n=880) in a cross-sectional study (III). Another study explored the association between calcaneal stiffness, forearm BMD, and lifestyle factors amongst participants aged 20–79 years (n=956) at the final registration of the VOPP (V). Effects of the VOPP interventions directed at environmental risk factors for falls and the promotion of physical activity were examined in people aged ≥ 65 years (IV). The incidence of forearm and hip fractures was studied amongst middle-aged and elderly individuals in the intervention and the control communities during the study period 1987–2001 (VI).The exercise group (n=15) in the weight-bearing training study showed increases in BMD at the greater trochanter (p<0.01), one-leg stance balance with the eyes closed and coordination tests (p<0.05), and aerobic capacity (p<0.05). No significant difference was found when the groups were compared concerning changes in the different tests during the intervention period (I). In the balance-training study, the exercise group showed post-training improvement in the following tests: standing on the right leg with eyes closed (p<0.01), standing on the right leg (p<0.01) and on the left leg (p<0.05) while turning the head, and walking 30 metres (p<0.01). There were significant differences between the groups in these tests when changes were compared at the post-intervention test (II). Age (p<0.0001) and body mass index (p≤.0001) were associated with forearm BMD in both sexes. Reported moderate physical activity levels in men were positively associated with forearm BMD (p<0.05) (III). In both sexes, reported moderate (p<0.05) and high (women p<0.05 and men p<0.001) physical activity levels were positively associated with calcaneal stiffness. The correlation coefficient between forearm BMD and calcaneal stiffness was 0.58 in women and 0.34 in men (V). Persons aged ≥ 65 years at the follow-up in 1994 reported more use of shoe/cane spikesand moderate physical activity levels compared to controls (IV). There was no change in the general incidence of forearm and hip fractures between the communities for the study period. However, there was a tendency towards decreasing incidence of forearm and trochanteric hip fracture in both sexes during the late intervention period in the intervention community (VI).A community-based intervention programme aimed at reducing the incidence of osteoporotic fractures must be regarded as a long-term project and should preferably be monitored over an extended post-intervention period.