Associations between obesity, physical fitness, and urinary incontinence in non-institutionalized postmenopausal women: The elderly EXERNET multi-center study

Maturitas. 2015 Oct;82(2):208-14. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2015.07.008. Epub 2015 Jul 17.


Objectives: To investigate the associations between body composition, fitness level, and urinary incontinence (UI) in 471 non-institutionalized women ≥ 65 years of age.

Study design: Cross-sectional study.

Method: UI was assessed using the International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire Short-Form and a specific severity UI item. Anthropometric measurements were obtained using standardized techniques and equipment. Body fat percentage (BF%) was measured by bioelectrical impedance. Physical fitness (PF) was evaluated by a set of 8 tests and a fitness index (FI) was calculated. Active and sedentary behaviors were recorded by standardized questionnaires.

Results: UI was reported in 28.5% of the participants. Women with UI showed higher values of body mass index (BMI), BF% and waist circumference (WC) (all p<0.05) compared to urinary continent women, whereas there was a lower fitness index (FI) level in women with UI (p=0.08). Among all fitness capacities, upper body flexibility showed the closest relationship with UI. UI risk increased by 87.0% [95% confidence intervals (1.01-3.17)] in obese women compared to the normal group, according to the BF% while no significant results were found when PF, WC and BMI were included in the model. Mean sitting and walking time per day were 4.3±1.4 and 1.8±0.9 h/d, respectively.

Conclusion: UI was associated with an excess of fat mass and poor PF, especially upper-body flexibility.

Keywords: Aging; Central obesity; Fat mass; Functional fitness; Physical activity; Urinary incontinence.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Services for the Aged
  • Humans
  • Obesity, Morbid / complications*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Postmenopause*
  • Prevalence
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urinary Incontinence / complications
  • Urinary Incontinence / epidemiology*
  • Walking
  • Women's Health