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The effects of exercise on the bones of postmenopausal women

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The effects of walking and aerobic dancing on the bones of 73 recently postmenopausal women have been compared by photon absorptiometry of the distal radius with a control group who did not exercise. The period of observation was six months. Results showed that the control group and the walking group lost statistically significant amounts of bone mineral content (1.6%, and 1.7% respectively), but that the dancing group did not (0.8%). The control group did not show a significant increase in the bone width (0.9%), but both the dancing (1.3%) and walking (1.6%) groups did. Changes in the cross-sectional moment of inertia of the radius were estimated for each subject based on bone mineral content and bone width values. Both exercise groups experienced significant increases in this variable, while the control group did not. Plasma oestrogen levels were not influenced by exercise. The results support the hypothesis that mechanical loading due to exercise may be effective in preventing postmenopausal osteoporosis.


Les auteurs ont comparé, par photo-absorptiométrie de l'extrémité inférieure du radius, les effets de la marche et de la danse «aerobic« sur l'os de 73 femmes récemment ménopausées en les comparant à un groupe de contrôle ne pratiquant aucun exercise. L'observation a porté sur une période de six mois. Les résultats montrent que le groupe de contrôle et celui qui pratique la marche présentent une déminéralisation osseuse statistiquement significative (1,6% et 1,7% respectivement), contrairement au groupe pratiquant la danse (0,8%). Il n'y a pas d'augmentation significative de la largeur de l'os dans le groupe de contrôle (0,9%), alors qu'elle est importante aussi bien dans le groupe de danse (1,3%) que dans le groupe de marche (1,6%). On a calculé chez chaque sujet, à l'aide des mesures de la teneur en minéraux et de la largeur de l'os, le moment d'inertie d'une section horizontale du radius. Les deux groupes pratiquant un exercise présentent une augmentation significative de cette variable, tandis qu'il n'y en a pas dans le groupe de contrôle. Le taux d'oestrogène plasmatique n'est pas influencé par l'exercise. Ces résultats confirment l'hypothèse selon laquelle les contraintes mécaniques entraînées par l'exercise pourraient prévenir efficacement l'ostéoporose post-ménopausique.

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Correspondence to Eric L. Radin.

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White, M.K., Martin, R.B., Yeater, R.A. et al. The effects of exercise on the bones of postmenopausal women. International Orthopaedics 7, 209–214 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00266829

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Key words

  • Bone mineral content
  • Exercise
  • Women
  • Osteoporosis
  • Oestrogen