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Stephen Harvey, Chris Rissel and Mirjam Pijnappels

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.

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Kimberley S. van Schooten, Sietse M. Rispens, Petra J.M. Elders, Paul Lips, Jaap H. van Dieën and Mirjam Pijnappels

We investigated the reliability of physical activity monitoring based on trunk accelerometry in older adults and assessed the number of measured days required to reliably assess physical activity. Seventy-nine older adults (mean age 79.1 ± 7.9) wore an accelerometer at the lower back during two nonconsecutive weeks. The duration of locomotion, lying, sitting, standing and shuffling, movement intensity, the number of locomotion bouts and transitions to standing, and the median and maximum duration of locomotion were determined per day. Using data of week 2 as reference, intraclass correlations and smallest detectable differences were calculated over an increasing number of consecutive days from week 1. Reliability was good to excellent when whole weeks were assessed. Our results indicate that a minimum of two days of observation are required to obtain an ICC ≥ 0.7 for most activities, except for lying and median duration of locomotion bouts, which required up to five days.