JAMA Logo Of all the hip fractures, apparently 90 percent are due to falls. It seems that hip fractures have the greatest effect on patients because they are associated with high mortality rates and increased morbidity. A recent study claims that home-based exercises followed by voluntary home training is related with long-term effects on balance and gait (manner of walking), further safeguarding high-risk, elderly women from hip fractures.

The scientists initiated an extended follow-up of 160 women who were previously enrolled in a randomized trial. This trial was carried out to possibly decrease risk factors for fractures in elderly women with osteopenia. It is known that women diagnosed with osteopenia either have lower bone mass, or declined levels of bone calcium. At the time of randomized control trial, 84 were subjected to exercise group and 76 in the control group. It was mentioned that the exercise group attended supervised balance, leg strength and impact training sessions once a week for 6 months, i.e., October to March each year from 1998 to 2001. The average observation time for both groups was 7.1 years.

Investigators added, “30 months of supervised, mainly home-based exercises followed by voluntary home training had a positive long-term effect on balance and gait in high-risk elderly women. Additionally, life-long physical activity was associated with reduced risk of fractures. Furthermore, mortality was significantly lower in the exercise group than in the control group during the extended follow-up period. Regular daily physical activity should be recommended to elderly women with osteopenia.”

In the follow-up time Raija Korpelainen, Ph.D., of Oulu Deaconess Institute, Oulu, Finland, and colleagues observed that 17 women in the exercise group were hospital-treated for fractures. On the other hand, 23 fractures were reported by the control group. While the total incidence rate of fractures in the exercise group appeared to be 0.05 per 1,000 women every year, in the control group it was 0.08. Immediate fractures seemingly occurred in 52.2 percent of the control group and 17.6 percent of the exercise group. It was concluded that lifelong physical activity performed in moderation reduced the overall risk of suffering from any fractures in total follow-up period.

No hip fractures were registered by women in exercise group during the follow-up period, but the control group mentioned five hip fractures. Extreme benefits in mean leg strength were probably enjoyed by the exercise group. By the end of 2005, one woman in exercise group had died as compared with eight women in the control group. So the death rate of women each year was 0.003 per 1,000 in the exercise group and 0.03 for the control group.

The study was published in the September 27 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.