Research Summary

Association Between Degree of Walking Ability and Bone Fracture Risk

Jessica Ganga

Walking ability and limitations in adults aged 45 years and older are associated with an increased risk for bone fractures, according to a prospective cohort study.

A team of researchers investigated the association between patient self-reporting walking limitation of 1000 m or less and 5-year risk of bone fractures. The researchers conducted a prospective cohort study where they compared the various degrees of walking ability in patients. A total of 238,969 participants from the population-based Sax Institute 45 and Up Study were included in the study. Of those included, 126,015 were women (53%) and 112,954 were men (47%).

Researchers found that approximately 20% of participants reported a degree of limitation in walking 1000 m or less at baseline. In patients with walking limitations, little limitation and a lot of limitation were associated with a higher risk of fracture, when compared with those who reported no walking limitations. Approximately 60% of fractures were attributed to a degree of walking limitation. Hip, vertebral, and nonhip nonvertebral fractures had a significant association, with a range of a 21% increase to greater than a 219% increase.

“Limited walking ability can be sought by clinicians to identify high-risk candidates for further assessment (ie, BMD testing),” the researchers concluded. “Future studies are needed to see whether this simple evaluation could improve the existing fracture risk tools and whether measures to improve walking ability would have a beneficial effect on fracture risk.”



Bliuc D, Tran T, Alarkawi D, et al. Patient self-assessment of walking ability and fracture risk in older Australian adults. JAMA Netw Open. Published online January 23, 2024. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.52675