An updated review of studies has found that when compared with staying sedentary, strength exercises increase bone density in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.

“Bone loss is an inevitable part of aging, and our review indicates that exercise appears to slow it down,” said Tracey E. Howe, a professor of rehabilitation services at the Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland, lead author of the study. “Exercise needs to be done on a regular basis, as stopping exercise means bone loss will continue at the same rate as before.”

Howe’s review involved the examination of 43 randomized controlled trials that evaluated the effect of exercise programs on the bone health of 4,320 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. The updated review included 27 studies not included in an iteration published in 2000.

The results, the authors found, were similar to those in the 2000 review: exercise has the potential to be a safe and effective way to avert bone loss in postmenopausal women. Non weight-bearing high-force exercise—such as progressive resistance lower limb strength training—was found to be the most effective bone density-building exercise for the neck of the femur, while combination exercise programs were found to be most effective for building bone density in the spine.

The review noted women who exercised regularly were found to lose an average of about 1% less bone than non-exercisers. Women who exercised were not found to be more likely to sustain injuries or falls while exercising. Fracture risk was reduced by exercise from around 11 of every 100 women to 7 of every 100 women.

“Our results suggest a relatively small statistically significant, but possibly important, effect of exercise on bone density compared with control groups,” researchers said.

[Source: Ortho SuperSite]