Date of Award

Fall 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Human Movement Sciences

Committee Director

J. David Branch

Committee Member

Steven Morrison

Committee Member

Joshua T. Weinhandl


Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess relationships between objectively measured physical activity, physical fitness, and the risk of falling. Methods: A total of n=29 subjects completed the study, n=15 male and n=14 female age (mean±SD)= 70± 4 and 71±3 years, respectively. In a single testing session, subjects performed pre-post evaluations of falls risk (Short-from PPA) with a 6-minute walking intervention between the assessments. The falls risk assessment included tests of balance, knee extensor strength, proprioception, reaction time, and visual contrast. The sub-maximal effort 6-minute walking task served as an indirect assessment of cardiorespiratory fitness. Subjects traversed a walking mat to assess for variation in gait parameters during the walking task. Additional center of pressure (COP) balance measures were collected via forceplate during the falls risk assessments. Subjects completed a Modified Falls Efficacy Scale (MFES) falls confidence survey. Subjects’ falls histories were also collected. Subjects wore hip mounted accelerometers for a 7-day period to assess time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Results: Males had greater body mass and height than females (p=0.001, p=0.001). Males had a lower falls risk than females at baseline (p=0.043) and post-walk (p=0.031). MFES scores were similar among all subjects (Median = 10). Falls history reporting revealed; fallers (n=8) and non-fallers (n=21). No significant relationships were found between main outcome measures of MVPA, cardiorespiratory fitness, or falls risk. Fallers had higher knee extensor strength than non-fallers at baseline (p=0.028) and post-walk (p=0.011). Though not significant (p=0.306), fallers spent 90 minutes more time in MVPA than non-fallers (427.8±244.6 min versus 335.7±199.5). Variations in gait and COP variables were not significant. Conclusions: This study found no apparent relationship between objectively measured physical activity, indirectly measured cardiorespiratory fitness, and falls risk.