How Effective Is High-impact Exercise on Osteoporosis?

Exercise is an incredibly effective way to boost bone health and prevent osteoporosis. But does high-impact exercise in short bursts really have a positive effect on bone health? That’s exactly what UK researchers investigated in a study.
group of people working out with steppers in a gymResearchers conducted a structured and comprehensive search of databases. They searched key journals and reference lists to find relevant studies, which were both published and unpublished, up to January 2011. The quality of trials that were included varied from medium to high (on a scale of 1 to 3).

This meta-analysis involved 6 randomized controlled trials that met pre-determined inclusion criteria; a total of 256 premenopausal women were included in the study.

Brief high-impact exercises (less than 30 minutes) were evaluated for their impact on bone mineral density (BMD) in the study’s participants; trial quality was assessed using the Effective Public Health Practice Project (a quality assessment tool).

Study outcomes for analysis, absolute change (grams per square centimeter), or relative change (in percent) in BMD at 3 specific locations (femoral neck, trochanter, and lumbar spine) were compared by measuring standardized mean difference (SMD). Fixed and random effects models were used.

Researchers found that brief bursts of exercise led to:

  • significant increases in femoral neck BMD (SMD=0.64, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.38, 0.90, overall effect Z value=4.84, p=0.001)
  • a moderate increase in trochanteric BMD (SMD=0.36, 95% CI=0.10, 0.61, Z value=2.08, p=0.04)
  • no increase in spinal BMD (SMD=0.04, 95% CI= -0.23, 0.31, Z value=0.26, p=0.79)

The study concluded that brief bouts of high-impact exercise boosts BMD in the hip but not in the lumbar spine. The effectiveness of this type of exercise as a regular physical activity to prevent osteoporosis should be further investigated in larger populations.

Updated on: 03/08/17
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