Walking can improve bone mineral density at the femoral neck in postmenopausal women, although it has no significant effect on the spine.
These are the findings of a study published last year and now highlighted in this month’s NHS Evidence Bulletin. The original systematic review assessed the effects of prescribed walking programmes on bone mineral density at the hip and spine in this group of women. Treatment in the randomised and non-randomised controlled trials ranged from six to 24 months. The researchers conclude that ‘regular walking has no significant effect on preservation of BMD at the spine in postmenopausal women, whilst significant positive effects at femoral neck are evident’. Commenting on the study, consultant orthopaedic surgeon Nimalan Maruthainar, who led the NHS annual evidence update, said the results could be useful for clinicians such as physiotherapists who were advising patients on ways to improve health and well-being. ‘This is clear evidence that walking can make bones stronger,’ he said. ‘It is also an easy prevention method to recommend because it doesn’t cost anything and is relatively risk free.’
For further information go to http://tinyurl.com/knfyhrMartyn-St James M, Carroll S. ‘Meta-analysis of walking for preservation of bone mineral density in postmenopausal women’. Bone (2008) Sept; 43, 3: 521-531
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