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Physical activity and vitamin D

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Fraser Birrell, Emeritus Professor Roger Francis


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Exercise and vitamin D are both important for musculoskeletal health. In this issue of the Journal, Scragg and Camargo (Am J Epidemiol 2008;168:577-86) provide a new analysis of relatively old data on physical activity and vitamin D from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994). This commentary considers the methodological strengths and weaknesses of the study and concludes that the findings are as robust as could reasonably be expected from a cross-sectional design. Consideration is given to whether outdoor exercise is the cause of higher vitamin D levels and, if so, whether mortality gains may accrue from more widespread participation. A note of caution is sounded, given the disappointing results on studies of the prevention of falls and fractures with vitamin D supplementation in community-dwelling populations. However, this is an important observation, and more epidemiologic studies are needed, preferably including care home residents. Applied researchers should consider further studies of vitamin D supplementation in older people, possibly combined with an exercise intervention. Public health professionals and practicing clinicians should recognize that there is a rationale for recommending outdoor exercise, and they should seek to improve universal accessibility. © The Author 2008. Published by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Birrell F, Francis RM

Publication type: Note

Publication status: Published

Journal: American Journal of Epidemiology

Year: 2008

Volume: 168

Issue: 6

Pages: 587-589

ISSN (print): 0002-9262

ISSN (electronic): 1476-6256


DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwn161