Osteoporosis, the loss of bone mineral density, occurs in 55% of Americans over the age of 50. It’s associated with increased risk of fracture after a fall. Weight-bearing exercises are often effective at reducing the rate of bone loss, but rarely increases bone density in osteoporotic women.

Researchers in Italy investigated the effects of a multi-component and multi-modal exercise program in osteoporotic women. Initially, 239 post-menopausal women with decreased bone mineral density (assessed by DEXA testing) were screened with the Senior Fitness Test, hand grip strength, and modified CTSIB balance test. Subsequently, 79 women were found to have “clinical or musculoskeletal” impairments and were referred to a rehabilitation training program rather than participate in the study. 125 eligible subjects were then randomly assigned to a control group or an exercise intervention.

The 11-month exercise program included a well-rounded exercise program of strength, balance, flexibility, and aerobic activities. The first 3 months of exercise were performed 3 times per week on land, while the remaining 8 months combined land-based (twice a week) with aquatic exercise (once a week). Exercise sessions lasted 60 minutes and included exercises with dumbbells, Thera-Band® resistance bands, exercise balls, and steps. Each session included 20 to 25 minutes of warm-up, 30 minutes of training, and 5 to 10 minutes of cool-down. The exercise group also performed the exercises at home.

After the intervention, the exercise group significantly improved their femoral neck bone density score while the control group significantly decreased. Physical function also significantly increased in the exercise group, but decreased in the control group. Total bone mineral density, balance, and flexibility did not improve significantly in either group.

In conclusion a multi-component exercise program including Thera-Band resistance bands and aquatic exercise can improve function and bone health in post-menopausal women with osteoporosis.

REFERENCE: Tolomio S, Ermolao A, Lalli A, Zaccaria M. The effect of a multicomponent dual-modality exercise program targeting osteoporosis on bone health status and physical function capacity of postmenopausal women. J Women Aging. 2010 Oct;22(4):241-54.

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