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High intensity resistance training in postmenopausal women with low bone density

Summary of a study on the effectiveness of high-intesity resistance training in postmenopausal women with low bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis).

Who

101 postmenopausal women aged 65 (±5) (Austrialia).

Exercise group
49 women
63.9 (±11.3) kg
161.6 (±5.4) cm
Control group
52 women
62.2 (±9.5) kg
161.9 (±6.4) cm

Design

Randomised controlled trial, single-blinded.

Exercise group

supervised high-intensity progressive resistance and impact weight-bearing training (HiRIT): deadlift, overhead press, back squat, jumping chin-ups with drop landings 5 sets of 5 repetitions at 80-85% of 1 repetition maximum

30 minutes, 2 per week, 8 months

Control group

unsupervised low-intensity home-based training: lunges, calf raises, standing forward raise, shrugs and stretches 10-15 repetition at <60% of 1 repetition maximum

30 minutes, 2 per week, 8 months

Outcome measures/tests

  • bone mineral density (lumbar spine and femoral neck): dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA)
  • calcaneal ultroundsound: calcaneal broadband ultrosound attenuation in db/MHz (BUA), speed of sound in m/s (SOS), stiffness index (SI)
  • lower limb extensor strength (LES) - dynamometer
  • back extensor strength (BES) - dynamometer
  • timed up-and-go test
  • five times sit-to-standing
  • functional reach test
  • bone-specific physical activity questionnaire (current and total)
  • maximal vertical jump - force plate

Main results

  • Both femoral and lumbar bone density improved in HiRIT group when compared to decrease in the control group. HiRIT group had higher femoral cortical bone mineral content and femoral cortical thickness, other femoral neck measures (trabecular and cortical volume, total volume, trabecular and cortical volumetric bone mineral density, total volumetric, trabecular bone mineral content, total bone mineral content) did not differ.
  • There was no difference in bone density parameters between those who were taking osteoporosis medication or not.
  • Also, speed of sound (ultrasound of calcaneus) was higher in HiRIT than in control, but other ultrasound measures did not differ.
  • All physical performance measures (lower limb extensor strength, back extensor strength, timed up-and-go test, five times sit-to-standing, functional reach test, maximal vertical jump) significantly improved in HiRIT group when compared to the control.
  • No difference was found between groups in weight, BMI, current bone-specific physical activity or daily calcium intake. HiRIT group improved their height when compared to the control.

Take home message

For a clinician
Overall, bone density, physical performace and height improved in postmenopausal women with osteopenia and osteoporosis who performed high-intensity resistance and impact training over 8 months when compared to low-intensity training.
For a parent
High-intensity resistance and impact training has improved bone density, physical performance and height in postmenopausal women with low bone density.
For an athlete
If you are a woman who has low bone density or undergone menopause, high-intensity resistance and impact training may help you improve your bone density, physical perfomance and height.

Original article

Watson SL, Weeks BK, Weis LJ, Harding AT, Horan SA, Beck BR. High‐intensity resistance and impact training improves bone mineral density and physical function in postmenopausal women with osteopenia and osteoporosis: the LIFTMOR randomized controlled trial. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 2018 Feb;33(2):211-20.

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