Objective: To investigate the association between physical performance measures and bone mineral density (BMD) in older women.
Design: Cross-sectional analysis.
Setting: University research laboratory.
Participants: Healthy postmenopausal women (N=116; mean age +/- standard deviation, 68.3+/-6.8y) in self-reported good health who were not taking medications known to affect bone, including hormone replacement therapy.
Interventions: Not applicable.
Main outcome measures: Anthropometrics and BMD of the hip, spine, whole body, and forearm. Physical performance measures included normal and brisk 8-m gait speed, normal step length (NSL), brisk step length (BSL), timed 1-leg stance (OLS), timed sit-to-stand (STS), and grip strength.
Results: NSL, BSL, normal gait speed, brisk gait speed, OLS, and grip strength correlated significantly with several skeletal sites ( r range, .19-.38; P <.05). In multiple regression models containing body mass index, hours of total activity, total calcium intake, and age of menarche, NSL, BSL, normal and brisk gait speeds, OLS, and grip strength were all significantly associated with BMD of various skeletal sites (adjusted R 2 range, .11-.24; P <.05). Analysis of covariance showed that subjects with longer step lengths and faster normal and brisk gait speeds had higher BMD at the whole body, hip, and spine (brisk speed only). Those with a longer OLS had greater femoral neck BMD, and those with a stronger grip strength had greater BMD in the whole body and forearm ( P <.05). STS was not related to any skeletal site.
Conclusions: Normal and brisk gait speed, NSL, BSL, OLS, and grip strength are all associated with BMD at the whole body, hip, spine, and forearm. Physical performance evaluation may help with osteoporosis prevention and treatment programs for postmenopausal women when bone density scores have not been obtained or are unavailable.