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. 2014 Oct 15;180(8):830-7.
doi: 10.1093/aje/kwu199. Epub 2014 Sep 5.

Swimming and Other Sporting Activities and the Rate of Falls in Older Men: Longitudinal Findings From the Concord Health and Ageing in Men Project

Swimming and Other Sporting Activities and the Rate of Falls in Older Men: Longitudinal Findings From the Concord Health and Ageing in Men Project

Dafna Merom et al. Am J Epidemiol. .

Abstract

Balance training is the most efficacious exercise to prevent falls. This study examined the associations between common sporting activities and the incidence of falls, and whether lower risks can be attributed to the superior balance of sports participants. We studied a population-based cohort of 1,667 older Australian men (mean age = 76.8 years) in the Concord Health and Ageing in Men Project (CHAMP) between 2005 and 2011. Data on incident falls were captured by 12 triannual telephone call cycles per participant and were analyzed using negative binomial regression. The length of follow-up averaged 43.8 months (median, 48 months), during which time 2,662 falls were recorded. In unadjusted models, golfers (n = 160; incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 0.65, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.47, 0.89) and swimmers (n = 88; IRR = 0.47, 95% CI: 0.30, 0.71) had significantly lower risks of falling. After adjustment for leisure-time physical activity, walking, lifestyle physical activity score (e.g., chores, gardening), and conventional risk factors for falling, swimming was the only activity that was associated with a protective effect (IRR = 0.67, 95% CI: 0.45, 1.00). Swimmers had significantly lower postural sway (β = -5.23 cm(2), P < 0.05) and shorter time to complete a narrow walk test than men who took part in only lifestyle physical activities. Balance indicators were strong predictors of the incidence of falls. The IRR for swimmers was 0.71 (95% CI: 0.48, 1.06) after adding balance measures to the adjusted model.

Keywords: aged; balance; follow-up studies; gait; incident falls; men; sports.

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