Leisure-Time Physical Activity, Falls, and Fall Injuries in Middle-Aged Adults

Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, Theodore K. Courtney, Wen Ruey Chang, David A. Lombardi, Yueng Hsiang Huang, Melanye J. Brennan, Melissa J. Perry, Jeffrey N. Katz, David C. Christiani, Santosh K. Verma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Introduction Although exercise and strength training have been shown to be protective against falls in older adults (aged 65 years and older), evidence for the role of leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) in the prevention of falls and resulting injuries in middle-aged adults (aged 45-64 years) is lacking. In the present study, we investigate the association between self-reported engagement in LTPA and the frequency of falls and fall-related injuries among middle-aged and older adults, while controlling for key sociodemographic and health characteristics. Methods Nationally representative data from the 2010 U.S. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey were analyzed in April 2014 to examine the number of adults aged ≥45 years who self-reported their fall experience in the previous 3 months and any injuries that resulted from those falls. We then evaluated the association between LTPA and self-reported falls and injuries across three age strata (45-54, 55-64, and ≥65 years). The two main self-reported outcome measures were (1) frequency of falls in the 3 months prior to the survey interview date and (2) the number of injuries resulting from these falls. Prevalence ratios (PRs) and 95% CIs were calculated using Poisson regression models with robust SEs. Results Of 340,680 survey participants aged ≥45 years, 70.7% reported engaging in LTPA, and 17% reported one or more falls. Among those reporting a fall within 3 months, 25.6% experienced one injurious fall (fall resulting in an injury) and 8.4% reported two or more injurious falls. Controlling for sociodemographic and health characteristics, among adults aged 45-54 years, those who engaged in LTPA were significantly less likely to report one fall (PR=0.90, 95% CI=0.81, 0.99); two or more falls (PR=0.84, 95% CI=0.77, 0.93); one injurious fall (PR=0.88, 95% CI=0.78, 0.99); and two or more injurious falls (PR=0.69, 95% CI=0.58, 0.83) than those who did not exercise. A similar protective effect of LTPA on reporting falls and injuries was noted for adults aged 55-64 and ≥65 years. Conclusions Similar to older adults, middle-aged adults who engage in LTPA report fewer falls and fall-related injuries. Upon further confirmation of the relationship between LTPA and falls among middle-aged adults, fall prevention interventions could be developed for this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)888-901
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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