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High-intensity training increases BMD in postmenopausal women

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October 4, 2017

Belinda Beck
Belinda R. Beck

A high-intensity weight-bearing training program was more effective than a low-intensity home-based exercise program for improving femoral neck and lumbar spine bone mineral density in postmenopausal women with low bone mass, study data show.

“Only certain exercise enhances bone mass,” Belinda R. Beck, PhD, of the School of Allied Health Sciences at Griffith University and a director at The Bone Clinic in Brisbane, Australia, told Endocrine Today. “Previously it was thought the nature of that exercise was too risky for people with osteoporosis such that only low-intensity fall prevention activities should be attempted. Our work has shown that even individuals with osteoporosis can undertake effective exercise therapy for bone if properly supervised.”

Beck and colleagues evaluated data from the Lifting Intervention for Training Muscle and Osteoporosis Rehabilitation (LIFTMOR) trial on 101 postmenopausal women aged at least 58 years with low bone mass to determine the effect of high-intensity, progressive resistance and impact, weight-bearing training (intervention group; n = 49) compared with unsupervised low-intensity home-based exercise (control group; n = 52) for 8 months on femoral neck and lumbar spine BMD.

The intervention consisted of an 8-month, twice-weekly, 30-minute unsupervised training program at Griffith University or The Bone Clinic.

Overall, 43.6% of all participants had osteoporosis and 28% reported an osteoporotic fracture within the last 10 years.

Fewer of the intervention group compared with the control group experienced a reduction in lumbar spine BMD (18.6% vs. 72.1%) and femoral neck BMD (28.8% vs. 62.8%). The effect of the intervention was superior to the control condition for femoral neck cortical bone mineral content (P = .028) and femoral neck cortical thickness (P = .027).

Compared with the control group, the intervention group experienced improved leg extensor strength, back extensor strength, timed up-and-go test, five times sit-to-stand and functional reach test (P < .001 for all).

“We are currently examining the safety and efficacy of the program in a clinic setting where people with many different comorbidities (osteoarthritis, pelvic floor dysfunction, etc) and medications (bone medications, corticosteroids, cancer drugs, etc) undertake the exercise under supervised conditions,” Beck said. “This form of ‘real world’ application is necessary to determine whether the success of the randomized controlled trial can be replicated in a practical way. Results at 24 months are very positive.” – by Amber Cox

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Belinda R. Beck, PhD, can be reached at

Disclosures: Beck reports she is a director of The Bone Clinic in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.