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  1. Confortin, Susana Cararo MSc
  2. Barbosa, Aline Rodrigues PhD


Background and Purpose: Muscle strength is an important predictor of disability, mortality, and health complications among older adults. The objective of this study was to verify the sociodemographic factors, lifestyle, and health conditions associated with inadequate muscle strength in older women in a rural community in the South of Brazil.


Methods: This was a cross sectional study employing a probabilistic sample (2010-2011) of 270 older adult women (>=60 years). Handgrip strength (HGS) was measured with a dynamometer (Takei, Japan). Lower limb muscle strength (LLMS) was assessed through the "chair stand test." The variables analyzed were age, literacy, current work status, living arrangement, occupation throughout life, smoking, sitting time, number of morbidities, history of falls, and cognitive function. The prevalence ratio was used as a measure of association, by Poisson regression analysis (crude and adjusted).


Results: The mean age of the older women was 73.2 (standard deviation, 8.8) years. The proportion of women who presented with inadequate HGS and LLMS was 18.8% (95% confidence interval, 13.8-23.7) and 29.8% (95% confidence interval, 23.9-35.6), respectively. Inadequate strength in the 2 tests was associated with age, the condition of not working, and altered cognitive function. Inadequate strength in the LLMS test was associated with having fallen during the last year.


Conclusions: Factors associated with muscle strength are specific to the test. The following sociodemographic and health variables were positively associated with inadequate strength on the HGS and LLMS tests: advancing age, not working, and altered cognitive function. A history of falls is associated with inadequate performance on the LLMS test.