Smith, E.L., Gilligan, C., McAdam, M. et al. Calcif Tissue Int (1989) 44: 312. doi:10.1007/BF02556310
This study investigated the efficacy of 4 years of exercise intervention in deterring bone loss in middle-aged women, and is a correction and extension of previously published data. Sixty-two control subjects (mean age 50.8) and 80 exercise subjects (mean age 50.1) completed a 4-year study. Subjects exercised three times a week, 45 minutes per session. Bilateral radius, ulna, and humerus bone mineral content (BMC) and width (W) were measured on each subject 11 times over the 4-year period. The two groups did not differ initially in age, height, or weight, but the control group had a greater maximum VO2 (ml/kg/min) than the exercise group. Slopes and intercepts of the bone variables vs. time were determined for each subject, and these values were used for between-group comparisons of loss. The control group BMC and BMC/W declined significantly in all three bones in both arms. The exercise group rate of decline was significantly less than that of the control group for 12 of the 18 bone variables. The greatest effect of the exercise intervention was on the ulna and radius. Exercise subjects lost significantly less than control subjects in left and right ulna and radius BMC and BMC/W, and left ulna and radius W. Lesser differences between groups were observed in the humerus. BMC and W loss rates of the left humerus were reduced in the exercise group, with no difference between exercise and control subjects in the other humerus variables. To determine if menopausal status influenced the response to exercise, we analyzed the difference between groups for premenopausal and postmenopausal subjects separately. Regardless of menopausal status, exercise subjects had lower bone loss rates than control subjects. In both premenopausal and postmenopausal subjects, exercise reduced bone loss significantly for 10 of the 18 bone variables. It can be concluded that physical activity significantly reduces bone loss in the arms of middle-aged women.