Exercise May Be Beneficial for Women with Osteoporosis Following Vertebral Fracture

A study evaluated the effects of exercise on women with osteoporosis and vertebral fracture and observed improvements in muscle strength, balance, and mobility, and less of a fear of falling.

The researchers explained the importance of understanding exercise’s impact on this population, noting that maintaining a regular exercise regimen can be a challenge without help and support.

“The natural decline in physical fitness caused by aging may counteract the gains from an exercise intervention if it is not maintained,” they continued. “Muscle strength gained after an intervention is often lost or decreased in older people after a period of detraining. Similarly, improvements in balance in older adults may also be lost after detraining. Conversely, it is possible that participating in an exercise intervention may motivate some participants to maintain exercise outside of the trial to preserve the benefits or see continued improvements.”

This was a follow-up study that took place three months after an intervention as part of a randomized, controlled trial that randomized 149 women aged 65 years or older with osteoporosis and vertebral fracture to either an exercise or control group. The main outcome was three-month habitual walking speed. Secondary outcomes included other measures of physical fitness (Four Square Step Test [FSST], functional reach, grip strength, and Senior Fitness Test), measures of health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and fear of falling.

At the three-month post-intervention follow-up, the mean between-group difference in habitual walking speed was not statistically significant (0.03 m/s; 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.02 to 0.08; P=0.271). However, physical fitness outcomes differed and significantly favored the exercise group, including balance per the FSST (-0.68 s; 95% CI, -1.24 to -0.11; P=0.019); arm curl (1.3; 95% CI, 0.25 to 2.29; P=0.015), leg strength per the 30-s sit to stand (1.56; 95% CI, 0.68 to 2.44; P=0.001), and mobility per the 2.45-m up and go (-0.38 s; 95% CI, -0.74 to -0.02; P=0.039). The exercise group also had a significantly lower fear of falling (-1.7; 95% CI, -2.97 to -0.38; P=0.011). HRQoL did not largely differ between the groups.

The study was published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.