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Exercise beneficial for osteoporosis

Falls are a major cause of disability among the elderly, and those with osteoporosis are at particular risk of falling and sustaining a bone fracture. Exercises that boost strength and agility may lessen the odds of falling in elderly women with brittle bones.

Exercise beneficial for osteoporosis

Falls are a major cause of disability among the elderly, and those with osteoporosis are at particular risk of falling and sustaining a bone fracture. Exercises that boost strength and agility may lessen the odds of falling in elderly women with brittle bones.Canadian researchers found that both strength training and agility activities lowered the fall risk among women 75 to 85 years old, all of whom had reduced bone mass or full-blown osteoporosis. According to the researchers, although older adults are generally encouraged to stay active, people with osteoporosis may be advised to avoid exercise because of safety concerns. But this study shows that older adults with brittle bones should be active, under the proper supervision.Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver conducted a study, which showed very important gains in health, and the safety was excellent. For the study, 98 women were randomly assigned to perform one of three types of exercise: resistance training, agility training or stretching exercises. Those in the resistance-training group focused on building strength through lifting light-weights and doing exercises such as squats and lunges. The agility training used games, dance and obstacle courses to try to improve the women's balance, coordination and reaction times.
Women in all three groups took 50-minute exercise classes twice a week at a community centre. After six months, those in the strength-training and agility-training groups showed a greater drop in fall risk compared with women in the stretching group. Fall risk, which was estimated with a standard battery of tests, declined by about 57 per cent with strength training and 47 per cent with agility training. That compares with 20 percent in the stretching group.According to the researchers, much of the benefit from both types of training had to do with postural stability. This is gauged in tests that measure how much the body sways when a person is standing still. After six months, women in the strength and agility groups were steadier on their feet than at the study's start. The findings also suggest that strength training may be a particularly good way for elderly adults with osteoporosis to exercise. While participants found the agility program enjoyable, it carried a higher risk of falls, and it may be a less feasible type of activity compared with strength training.
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society,
June 2004
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