Intended for healthcare professionals


Preventing osteoporosis, falls, and fractures among elderly people

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 23 January 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:205

Promotion of lifelong physical activity is essential

  1. Pekka Kannus, chief physician.
  1. UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research, PO Box 30, FIN-33501 Tampere, Finland

    In recent decades the number and incidence of injuries caused by falls among older adults have increased dramatically throughout the world, and without any population level intervention the increasing trend is likely to continue—largely because of an increasing number of older people. 1 About two thirds of these injuries are bone fractures, the hip fracture being the most common, the most devastating, and the most expensive that our healthcare systems have to face.1

    Regular exercise is probably the only method that may prevent osteoporotic fractures, the true end point of the entire osteoporosis problem, by preventing both osteoporosis and falls. The evidence seems stronger for exercise preventing osteoporosis. Human and animal studies have shown that physical activity can increase bone mass, density, and strength. 2 3 The starting age of activity is crucial: the benefit to bone is doubled if the activity is started before or at puberty …

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