Physical Performance in Relation to Body Composition and Bone Mineral Density in Healthy, Overweight, and Obese Postmenopausal Women

Shin, Hyehyung PhD, MPH; Liu, Pei-Yang PhD, RD; Panton, Lynn B. PhD; Ilich, Jasminka Z. PhD, RD

Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy: January/March 2014 - Volume 37 - Issue 1 - p 7–16
doi: 10.1519/JPT.0b013e31828af203
Research Reports

Background and Purpose: Diminished physical performance can be detrimental among the older adults, causing falls and subsequent fractures, loss of independence, and increased morbidity and mortality rates. Therefore, it is important to maintain functional ability from the early onset of aging. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between physical performance measures and body composition (bone, fat, and lean mass) in healthy, overweight and obese, early postmenopausal white women.

Methods: A total of 97 participants aged 56.0 (4.4) years (mean (SD)) with body mass index of 31.0 (4.6) kg/m2 were included. Weight and height were recorded and 3 days of dietary records and physical activity were collected. Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry measurements for body composition and bone mineral density were performed. Fasting blood samples were used for serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25OHD) analysis. Measures of physical performance included handgrip strength, 8-meter walking speed, one-leg-stance time, 8-foot Timed Get-Up-and-Go Test, and chair sit-to-stand test.

Results: Results showed that higher lean mass was related to better physical performance on items assessing body strength, including handgrip (r ranged from 0.22 to 0.25, P < .05) while higher body fat was related to the poorer physical performance in each of the assessed measures. Bone mineral density of the forearm was positively related to the handgrip strength (r = 0.207, P < .05). In regression analyses (controlled for age, weight, height, serum 25OHD status, calcium intake, physical activity, and smoking), fat mass of the lower extremities was inversely related to walking speed, one-leg-stance time, and Get-Up-and-Go measures, all crucial for mobility (r2 = 0.13-0.23, P < .05).

Conclusions: Overall, higher fat and lower lean mass was related to poorer physical performance, while forearm bone mineral density was related to the handgrip strength only. Further investigation may be beneficial for a better understanding of how body composition may prevent decline in physical performance among overweight/obese, mid-age, and older women.

1Research Institute of Insurance & Finance, Samsung Life Insurance, Seoul, South Korea.

2School of Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Akron, Akron, Ohio.

3Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences, Florida State University, Tallahassee.

Address correspondence to: Jasminka Z. Ilich, PhD, RD, Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences, Florida State University, 120 Convocation Way, 480 Sandels Bldg, Tallahassee, FL 32306 (

This study was supported by grant (PI, J.Z.I.): USDA/CSREES/NRI #2004-05287.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2014 Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy, APTA