Physical exercise in the fight against osteoporosis

May 6, 2013

Montserrat Otero, PhD holder in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country, has designed a physical exercise programme which is based on very basic, rudimentary materials and which significantly improves upper and lower limb strength as well as static and dynamic balance in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a disorder of the characterised by an alteration in bone resistance, which increases a person's risk of sustaining fractures. In the case of women, the natural tendency is to start losing bone for the first time after the age of 35. After the menopause, an acceleration of this loss may also occur.

One of the main difficulties in diagnosing this disease is that the loss of that takes place in osteoporosis is progressive and causes no pain. The bone becomes so fragile that the slightest injury can cause a fracture. That is why most people are not aware they have weakened bones until they sustain a fracture. And it is at that moment, when the disease causes bone deformities, that pain and various chronic alterations kick in.

Effects of doing physical exercise

One of the main steps encouraged by the various government organisations in the fight against osteoporosis, and supported by scientific evidence, focuses on preventing falls by doing . But one of the biggest drawbacks of the organisations when it comes to activating physical exercise programmes geared towards individuals of this type is the economic aspect. There are very few studies that support this and very few that have also statistically managed to achieve significant improvements using very basic materials rather than sophisticated machinery, which is sometimes inaccessible due to the economic cost involved. This is precisely the aim that Montserrat Otero set herself in her PhD thesis: to establish whether a programme of physical exercise using basic materials (bottles filled with sand, marbles and stones, ropes, chairs, etc.) can improve the strength of the upper and lower limbs and the static and dynamic balance of women with postmenopausal osteoporosis. Physical exercise that mainly aims to improve the levels of muscular strength and balance, since low levels of these components in physical fitness have been identified as risk factors in falls.

So Otero studied 68 women with postmenopausal osteoporosis between the ages of 50 and 72, of whom 34 were randomly assigned to the Exercise Group and 34 to the Control Group. The participants in the Exercise Group followed a supervised programme of physical exercise involving strength and balance training. This programme lasted six months in which there were 72 sessions each lasting 60 minutes, in which between 5 and 8 balance exercises and between 8 and 12 strength exercises were done per session. The Control Group did not participate in the programme of physical exercise, although they did do the strength and balance tests beforehand and afterwards.

At the start of the programme there were no significant differences in the two groups in any of the variables. However, following the intervention, the strength of the upper and lower limbs of the groups was markedly different. "Those in the Exercise Group significantly improved their performance in muscular strength of the upper and lower limbs, while those in the Control Group significantly worsened in both variables," explains Otero. With respect to the balance variable, the experienced a significant improvement after the intervention.

Otero has concluded that a programme of physical exercise based on low-intensity strength exercises and exercises involving static and dynamic balance, carried out three days per week in one-hour sessions over a 6-month period, leads to significant improvements in muscular strength in the upper and lower limbs and in static and in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis. That is why "if there is no access to sophisticated equipment due to the economic cost involved, today we know that even without it, the risk factors of the main consequence of the disease can be reduced, which are the falls," stresses Otero.

Explore further: Balance and strength training can prevent falls in older people

Related Stories

Balance and strength training can prevent falls in older people

August 7, 2012
Balance and strength training is known to reduce falls in older adults. However, less than 10% of older people routinely engage in strength training and it is likely that this is much lower for activities that challenge balance.

Exercise in early 20s may lower risk of osteoporosis

February 13, 2012
Physical exercise in the early twenties improves bone development and may reduce the risk of fractures later in life, reveals a study of more than 800 Swedish men carried out at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of ...

Strength training curbs hip, spinal bone loss in women with osteoporosis

July 13, 2011
Women with osteoporosis – a skeletal disease that erodes bone density, weakens bone strength and increases the risk of fractures – might think taking it easy is the best way to prevent bone breaks. Yet an updated ...

Study shows exercise can improve bone density in postmenopausal women

November 20, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—A study by researchers in the West Virginia University School of Public Health and the University of Colorado shows that exercise can improve bone density in postmenopausal women.

Recommended for you

A large-scale 'germ trap' solution for hospitals

July 26, 2017
When an infectious airborne illness strikes, some hospitals use negative pressure rooms to isolate and treat patients. These rooms use ventilation controls to keep germ-filled air contained rather than letting it circulate ...

Male hepatitis B patients suffer worse liver ailments, regardless of lifestyle

July 25, 2017
Why men with hepatitis B remain more than twice as likely to develop severe liver disease than women remains a mystery, even after a study led by a recent Drexel University graduate took lifestyle choices and environments ...

Mind-body therapies immediately reduce unmanageable pain in hospital patients

July 25, 2017
Mindfulness training and hypnotic suggestion significantly reduced acute pain experienced by hospital patients, according to a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Researchers report new system to study chronic hepatitis B

July 25, 2017
Scientists from Princeton University's Department of Molecular Biology have successfully tested a cell-culture system that will allow researchers to perform laboratory-based studies of long-term hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections. ...

Research examines lung cell turnover as risk factor and target for treatment of influenza pneumonia

July 24, 2017
Influenza is a recurring global health threat that, according to the World Health Organization, is responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths every year, most due to influenza pneumonia, or viral pneumonia. Infection with ...

Scientists propose novel therapy to lessen risk of obesity-linked disease

July 24, 2017
With obesity related illnesses a global pandemic, researchers propose in the Journal of Clinical Investigation using a blood thinner to target molecular drivers of chronic metabolic inflammation in people eating high-fat ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.