Exercise can improve bone density in postmenopausal women

Different types of exercise can have positive effects on bone density in women after the menopause, according to a study by West Virginia University School of Public Health and University of Colorado, which was published in the November issue of BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.

The research included the results from 25 studies covering 1,775 postmenopausal women. The studies covered exercises including ground and joint reaction weight-bearing exercises, such as walking/jogging and weight lifting. The study found improved bone density at the hip and spine, which are the two sites where fractures are most likely to occur.

The women included in the studies were not regularly active, which means that they did exercise of moderate intensity for less than 150 minutes a week or of vigorous intensity for less than 75 minutes a week. The participants needed to have performed exercise for at least six months, since it has been suggested that changes in bone density brought about by exercise can be expected to occur after approximately this period of time.

Some 200 million women around the world suffer from osteoporosis, Dr George Kelley of the WVU School of Public Health Department of Biostatistics said. Low bone density, which results in hip and spine fractures, is renowned as a major public health problem for women after the menopause, he added. According to the study's findings, exercise is a key factor which can be used to improve bone mineral density in this group of women, Kelley concluded.