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Weight-Bearing Exercise Training and Lumbar Bone Mineral Content in Postmenopausal Women

GAIL P. DALSKY, Ph.D.; KAREN S. STOCKE, B.S.; ALI A. EHSANI, M.D.; EDUARDO SLATOPOLSKY, M.D.; WALDON C. LEE; and STANLEY J. BIRGE Jr., M.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Gail P. Dalsky, Ph.D.; University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, AM047; Farmington, CT 06032-9984.


St. Louis, Missouri


© 1988 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1988;108(6):824-828. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-108-6-824
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Study Objective: To assess the effect of weight-bearing exercise training and subsequent detraining on lumbar bone mineral content in postmenopausal women.

Design: Non-randomized, controlled, short-term (9 months) trial and long-term (22 months) exercise training and detraining (13 months).

Setting: Section of applied physiology at a university school of medicine.

Patients: Thirty-five healthy, sedentary postmenopausal women, 55 to 70 years old. All women completed the study. There was 90% compliance with exercise training.

Interventions: All women were given calcium, 1500 mg daily. The exercise group did weight-bearing exercise (walking, jogging, stair climbing) at 70% to 90% of maximal oxygen uptake capacity for 50 to 60 min, 3 times weekly.

Measurements and Main Results: Bone mineral content increased 5. 2% (95% confidence interval [Cl], 2.0% to 8.4%; P = 0.0037) above baseline after short-term training whereas there was no change (-1.4%) in the control group. After 22 months of exercise, bone mineral content was 6.1% (95% Cl, 3.9% to 8.3% above baseline; P =0.0001) in the long-term training group. After 13 months of decreased activity, bone mass was 1.1% above baseline in the detraining group.

Conclusions: Weight-bearing exercise led to significant increases above baseline in bone mineral content which were maintained with continued training in older, postmenopausal women. With reduced weight-bearing exercise, bone mass reverted to baseline levels. Further studies are needed to determine the threshold exercise prescription that will produce significant increases in bone mass.

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