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Exercise Helps Prevent Fractures

Regular Exercise Reduces Risk of Fractures in Elderly Women With Osteopenia
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Sept. 27, 2010 -- Elderly women with osteopenia, a condition with low levels of bone mineral density, can reduce their risk of hip fractures with regular daily exercise, a new study says.

In people diagnosed with osteopenia, bone mineral density is lower than normal, but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis.

Researchers in Finland studied 160 elderly women with osteopenia, 84 of whom were assigned to an exercise group and 76 who didn’t receive training in how to work out.

Women in the exercise group attended supervised balance, leg strength, and impact training weekly for a six-month period from October to March each year from 1998 to 2001. Both the exercise and control groups were followed for a period of about seven years.

During that time, 17 women trained in how to do proper exercises were treated in hospitals for fractures, compared to 23 in the control group.

Fractures Reduced in Exercisers

No hip fractures occurred in the exercise group during the follow-up, compared to five hip fractures in the control group. This is significant, the researchers say, because broken hips increase mortality risk in elderly women.

The women who exercised also “demonstrated a significant gain compared with the control group in mean leg strength.”

During the follow-up period, only one woman in the exercise group had died, compared with eight among those in the control group.

In-Home Exercising Reduces Fracture Risk

The authors write that 30 months of supervised, mainly home-based exercising methods followed by voluntary training at home had a positive long-term effect on balance and gait in high-risk elderly women.

What’s more, “life-long physical activity was associated with reduced risk of fractures,” the authors say.

The researchers say that regular daily exercise should be recommended for elderly women with osteopenia.

The authors write that falls cause at least 90% of all hip fractures, which have a high mortality rate.

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