Exercise Preserves Functioning in Women With Osteopenia

Elderly osteopenia patients who exercise may also have fewer fractures, lower mortality risk
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- An exercise program in elderly women with osteopenia appears to preserve physical functioning and decrease the risk of fractures and mortality, according to a study in the Sept. 27 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Raija Korpelainen, Ph.D., of the University of Oulo in Finland, and colleagues studied 160 women (aged 70 to 73 years) with osteopenia who either had participated in a six-month, once-a-week program of supervised balance, leg strength, and impact training, then exercised daily at home, or were part of a control group that did not exercise. The researchers monitored femoral neck bone mineral density, postural sway, leg strength, and functional capability, as well as the incidence of hospital-treated fractures during a mean 7.1 years of follow-up.

The researchers found that the exercise group had better postural sway, walking speed, and functionality as measured by Frenchay Activities Index score; however, bone mineral density decreases were similar for both groups. The incidence of fractures among women in the exercise group was 0.05 per 1,000 person-years compared to 0.08 in the control group. No hip fractures occurred in the exercise group, compared to five in the control group, and one woman in the exercise group and eight women in the control group died.

"Mainly home-based exercises followed by voluntary home training seem to have a long-term effect on balance and gait and may even protect high-risk elderly women from hip fractures," the authors write.

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