Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Can Walking Ward Off Bone Loss?

Study Shows Walking Builds Bone Mass in Men Getting Prostate Cancer Treatment
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 29, 2007 (Los Angeles) -- Brisk walking may reverse the severe bone loss associated with a common prostate cancer therapy, curbing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis, researchers report.

In a small study of men undergoing androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) and radiation for prostate cancer, strolling at a rapid pace for 30 minutes five days a week for eight weeks built bone strength.

In contrast, men who didn't exercise lost bone mass, says researcher Paula Chiplis, PhD, RN, a clinical instructor and senior research assistant in the department of nursing at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

"With exercise, prostate cancer patients gained bone density at a time in life when even healthy men are starting to lose bone density. This is really exciting," Jennifer Wenzel, PhD, RN, a researcher at Johns Hopkins who also worked on the study, tells WebMD.

The findings were reported at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's annual meeting.

Hormone Therapy

Men with localized cancer that is confined to the prostate gland can be treated with radiation therapy along with ADT. Radiation is used to kill the cancer cells. ADT inhibits the production of hormones called androgens that feed cancer cells, slowing tumor growth and improving the odds of survival.

But androgens also help build bone strength, so suppressing them results in a form of "male menopause," which weakens the bones and increases the risk of fractures and osteoporosis, Chiplis says.

Radiation is also thought to weaken bones, although the reasons are less clear, she adds.

Brisk Walking Builds Bones

But exercise can change all that, Chiplis says. In the study, brisk walking led to a 0.49% gain in bone mass in just eight to 10 weeks.

Men who didn't exercise lost 2.21% of their bone mass in the two-month study period; placed in context, healthy men lose between 0.5 to 1% of their bone mass per year, beginning in middle age, she says.

And men undergoing ADT lose 4% to 13% of their bone density annually, Chiplis tells WebMD. "Given these benchmarks, the effect of exercise is huge."

Today on WebMD

man with doctor
Symptoms, risks, treatments
man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore
prostate cancer cells
What does this diagnosis mean?
doctor and male patient
Is it worth it?
cancer fighting foods
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
Prostate Enlarged
Picture Of The Prostate
Prostate Cancer Quiz
screening tests for men
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
Vitamin D