Osteoporosis International

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 11–23 | Cite as

The effects of exercise and physical activity participation on bone mass and geometry in postmenopausal women: a systematic review of pQCT studies



The cumulative risk of fracture for a postmenopausal woman over the age of 50 can reach up to 60%. Exercise has the potential to modify fracture risk in postmenopausal women through its effects on bone mass and geometry; however, these effects are not well characterized. To determine the effects of exercise on bone mass and geometry in postmenopausal women, we conducted a systematic review of the literature. We included all randomized controlled trials, cross-sectional studies, and prospective studies that used peripheral quantitative computed tomography to assess the effects of exercise on bone mass and geometry in this population. Exercise effects appear to be modest, site-specific, and preferentially influence cortical rather than trabecular components of bone. Exercise type also plays a role, with the most prominent mass and geometric changes being observed in response to high-impact loading exercise. Exercise appears to positively influence bone mass and geometry in postmenopausal women. However, further research is needed to determine the types and amounts of exercise that are necessary to optimize improvements in bone mass and geometry in postmenopausal women and determine whether or not these improvements are capable of preventing fractures.


Bone geometry Exercise Physical activity Postmenopausal women pQCT 


Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. J. Hamilton
    • 1
    • 2
  • V. J. D. Swan
    • 1
  • S. A. Jamal
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Osteoporosis Research ProgramWomen’s College HospitalTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Exercise SciencesUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Osteoporosis Research ProgramWomen’s College HospitalTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and MetabolismUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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