Associations Between Bicycling and Reduced Fall-Related Physical Performance in Older Adults

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Falls among older adults remain a significant public health issue. Bicycling positively influences falls risk factors including reduced balance, muscle weakness, and low self-perceived confidence in maintaining balance. However, this association has not been systematically examined. We recruited 107 community-dwelling participants aged 65 years and older in the Netherlands to determine the relationship between bicycling and falls risk factors. Participants completed three questionnaires on cycling behavior and balance confidence, and also undertook five falls-related physical performance tasks encompassing tests of balance, strength, gait, and endurance. On average, current bicyclists showed significantly better scores in all physical tasks and confidence compared with nonriders ranging from a 10% difference in 6-m walk time to a 141% difference in single-leg balance time (all ps = .01). Type of bike used and duration of bicycling displayed varied associations (.01 < ps < .79). Our findings suggest that bicycle riding warrants further prospective investigation for fall prevention and active aging.

Harvey is with Physiotherapy Dept., Westmead Hospital, Westmead, Australia. Rissel is with the Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia. Pijnappels is with the Dept. of Human Movement Sciences, MOVE Research Institute Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Address author correspondence to Stephen Harvey at stephen.harvey@health.nsw.gov.au.
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