Greater thigh muscle area is associated with a lower risk for urinary incontinence (UI) among older women, according to study findings presented at the International Continence Society’s 2022 annual meeting (ICS 2022) in Vienna, Austria.

The study, which included 458 community-dwelling adults aged 60 years or older (227 women and 231) enrolled in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, examined the association between thigh muscle, strength, and specific force and incident UI. Investigators Scott R. Bauer, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues measured thigh muscle area using mid-femur cross-sectional 10-mm computed tomography images.

They defined thigh muscle strength based on maximum concentric 30˚/s knee extensor torque and defined thigh muscle specific force as strength divided by area.

Continue Reading

The study population had a mean follow-up duration of 3.2 years. Incident urinary incontinence developed in 75 women, with 53%, 31%, and 16% experiencing urgency UI, stress UI, and other/mixed UI, respectively. Incident UI developed in 82 men, with 50%, 19%, and 31% having urgency UI, stress UI, and other/mixed UI, respectively.

Compared with women in the lowest tertile of thigh muscle area, those in the middle and highest tertiles had 49% and 54% lower risk for incident UI, Dr Bauer reported. The investigators observed no association between thigh muscle area and incident UI in men. Thigh muscle strength and specific force were not associated with incident UI in either men or women.

“This novel study providing preliminary evidence for a relationship between thigh muscle area and risk of UI in older women,” the authors concluded in their study abstract. “While we did not observe statistically significant associations between thigh muscle measures and incident UI in older men, our [statistical] power may have been insufficient to detect modest but clinically meaningful effects.”

Dr Bauer’s team noted that their findings are consistent with previous research showing that older women with incident UI have an increased risk for lower extremity functional decline.


Bauer S, Lu K, Scherzer R, et al. Association of thigh muscle strength, area, and specific force with incident urinary incontinence in older adults: The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. Presented at: ICS 2022; September 7-10, Vienna, Austria. Abstract 163.