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Friday, 19 January, 2001, 00:39 GMT
'Sport prevents fractures', says study
Women in aerobics class
Regular sport cuts the risk of hip fractures
Vigorous sports can cut your risks of suffering from hip fractures, according to new research.

Scientists from Cambridge University found that people taking part in higher impact sports like jogging, tennis, badminton and competitive running were less likely to suffer hip fractures.

If you want to avoid fracture don't be a couch potato and exercise a lot in your middle years

Hugh Phillips, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon
Less high impact sports such as rowing and sailing were found to have a limited affect on bone health, with swimming and fishing having no affect at all.

Climbing stairs regularly was also shown to play a part in building bone strength in women.

The researchers from Cambridge University's Institute of Public Health, questioned over 5,000 people aged between 45-74 about how much exercise they took.

And they found that men exercising regularly could cut their risk of hip fractures by 33% and women by 12%.

High impact sports
High impact aerobics, step aerobics
Competitive running
Tennis or badminton
Football, rugby or hockey
Netball, volleyball, basketball

But the researchers said they would not advise older people to start taking up high impact sports late in life as this could lead to them suffering even more injuries.

"In older people such interventions may be inappropriate as they could increase the likelihood of falls," they said.

Orthopaedic surgeons have welcomed the research, but say people need to start doing the high impact sports as young as possible if it is to have any affect on their health.

Clear message

Hugh Phillips, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and a past president of the British Orthopaedic Association and the British Hip Association, said the research's message was clear.

"If you want to avoid fracture, don't be a couch potato and exercise a lot in your middle years.

He said that as people tend to lose bone density as they grow older, the years up to 35 particularly for women are the most important.

"High impact exercise is very appropriate for women less than 35 years old."

He added that the research could be very useful in channelling young people towards exercise and away from the sofa.

"It seems to me that they are drawing quite valid conclusions and any kind of method of preventing fractures is certainly a useful thing to do," he said.

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