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Exercise protects women’s ageing bones

26 July 2011 - 4:14pm

Evidence that exercise combats osteoporosis has been strengthened by a Cochrane review, published on 22 July.

The research, by CSP member Tracey Howe and colleagues, confirms that exercise reduces women’s risk of developing the brittle-bone condition after menopause.

‘All types of exercise programmes slow the loss of bone mineral density and slightly reduce the risk of fracture in postmenopausal women,’ said Prof Howe, professor of rehabilitation sciences at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Best research

The Cochrane Collaboration is an international network of more than 28,000 people in over 100 countries, who provide health information based on the best available research.

The review showed that postmenopausal women who didn’t exercise lost bone density more rapidly than those who did exercise. And 11 per cent of non-exercisers suffered a fracture, compared with seven per cent of those who exercised.

Combined exercise for spine

The authors found that bone loss in the hips could best be slowed by strength training that was aimed at progressively increasing lower-body strength.

To reduce bone loss in the spine, however, combining different types of exercise was most effective.

Findings welcomed

‘It is to be welcomed that the review shows a small but important effect of exercise on bone density,’ said Janet Thomas of AGILE, the CSP’s professional network for physios working with older people.

‘Physiotherapists should utilise the findings in clinical practice, making sure they use the best available evidence, such as using progressive resistance strength training for the lower limbs.’

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    Janet Wright

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