A pinboard by
Lachlan McMillan

PhD Candidate, Monash University


Physical activity is recognised as an important therapy for osteoporosis (low bone mineral density). Specifically, high-impact activity, experienced during running or jumping, is most beneficial, however the exact relationship and effect of such exercise is poorly understood in older adults.

Currently I am investigating the use of wearable devices, such as Fitbit's, to observe the relationship between bone density and physical activity in older adults. I am also interested in the development of methods to measure forces experienced by our skeleton during physical activity. Working with collaborators in Northern Sweden and Bristol (United Kingdom) we are working to develop an algorithm capable of detecting forces experienced by the skeleton, using data from accelerometers. Accelerometers are a commonly used electronic device for measuring physical activity, and can be worn comfortably for extended periods.

We hope that our research will shine a light on the importance of physical activity in the maintenance of skeletal health during aging, and that our research will pave the way for future research, increasing the efficacy of therapies deployed against poor skeletal health.


A novel accelerometer-based method to describe day-to-day exposure to potentially osteogenic vertical impacts in older adults: findings from a multi-cohort study.

Abstract: This observational study assessed vertical impacts experienced in older adults as part of their day-to-day physical activity using accelerometry and questionnaire data. Population-based older adults experienced very limited high-impact activity. The accelerometry method utilised appeared to be valid based on comparisons between different cohorts and with self-reported activity.We aimed to validate a novel method for evaluating day-to-day higher impact weight-bearing physical activity (PA) in older adults, thought to be important in protecting against osteoporosis, by comparing results between four cohorts varying in age and activity levels, and with self-reported PA levels.Participants were from three population-based cohorts, MRC National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD), Hertfordshire Cohort Study (HCS) and Cohort for Skeletal Health in Bristol and Avon (COSHIBA), and the Master Athlete Cohort (MAC). Y-axis peaks (reflecting the vertical when an individual is upright) from a triaxial accelerometer (sampling frequency 50 Hz, range 0-16 g) worn at the waist for 7 days were classified as low (0.5-1.0 g), medium (1.0-1.5 g) or higher (≥1.5 g) impacts.There were a median of 90, 41 and 39 higher impacts/week in NSHD (age 69.5), COSHIBA (age 76.8) and HCS (age 78.5) participants, respectively (total n = 1512). In contrast, MAC participants (age 68.5) had a median of 14,322 higher impacts/week. In the three population cohorts combined, based on comparison of beta coefficients, moderate-high-impact activities as assessed by PA questionnaire were suggestive of stronger association with higher impacts from accelerometers (0.25 [0.17, 0.34]), compared with medium (0.18 [0.09, 0.27]) and low impacts (0.13 [0.07,0.19]) (beta coefficient, with 95 % CI). Likewise in MAC, reported moderate-high-impact activities showed a stronger association with higher impacts (0.26 [0.14, 0.37]), compared with medium (0.14 [0.05, 0.22]) and low impacts (0.03 [-0.02, 0.08]).Our new accelerometer method appears to provide valid measures of higher vertical impacts in older adults. Results obtained from the three population-based cohorts indicate that older adults generally experience very limited higher impact weight-bearing PA.

Pub.: 01 Nov '16, Pinned: 28 Aug '17

Objectively measured physical activity is associated with parameters of bone in 70-year-old men and women.

Abstract: As the world's population ages, the occurrence of osteoporosis-related fractures is projected to increase. Low areal bone mineral density (aBMD), a well-known risk factor for fractures, may be influenced by physical activity (PA). In this cross-sectional study, we aimed to investigate potential associations between objective measures of PA and bone properties, in a population-based cohort of 1228 70-year-old men and women. We measured volumetric BMD (vBMD, mg/cm(3)) together with cross-sectional area (CSA, mm(2)) by peripheral quantitative computed tomography at sites located 4% and 66% in the distal-proximal trajectory at the tibia and radius. We also measured aBMD (g/cm(2)) by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry at the femoral neck, lumbar spine (L1-L4) and radius. Participants wore triaxial accelerometers for 7 consecutive days to obtain objective estimates of PA. The intensity of the objective PA was divided into light (100-1951 counts/min [CPM]), moderate (1952-5724 cpm) and vigorous (≥ 5725 cpm). Maximal accelerations for the anterior-posterior (z), medio-lateral (x), and vertical (y) axes were also separately assessed. Associations were investigated using bivariate correlations and multiple linear regression, adjusted for height, weight and sex. Vigorous PA showed the strongest association with femoral neck aBMD (β=0.09, p<0.001), while both moderate and vigorous PAs were associated with cortical area and trabecular vBMD in the weight-bearing tibia (all p<0.05). Peak vertical accelerations were associated significantly with cortical area (β=0.09, p<0.001) and trabecular vBMD (β=0.09, p=0.001) of the tibia, whereas peak anterior-posterior accelerations showed no correlation with these properties. No positive association was found between objectively measured PA and bone parameters of the radius. In conclusion, vertical accelerations and moderate to vigorous PA independently predict bone properties, especially in the weight-bearing tibia, in 70-year-old men and women.

Pub.: 08 Jul '15, Pinned: 28 Aug '17