A four-year study at the University of Arizona looked at the benefits of resistance exercises and calcium supplements for maintaining bone health in postmenopausal women. The study, called BEST (Bone, Estrogen, Strength Training), recruited women (ages 45 to 65) who were on hormone replacement therapy and those who were not.
All participants took daily supplements of calcium and were further divided into subgroups that exercised three times a week or remained inactive. The researchers developed a series of six weight-bearing and resistance exercises to target the muscles of the wrist, hip and spine—three key fracture sites of osteoporosis.
The bone mineral density of all volunteers was measured and the results showed that:
•HRT, exercise and calcium intake increased BMD the most
•Exercise and calcium alone also increased BMD, but to a lesser degree
•Inactive women, or those who didn’t take calcium, had the greatest loss of bone density
Before this study, it was thought that any type of exercise would be beneficial toward building bone strength. “This type of weight-bearing exercise now is proven to be beneficial and represents a shift in the prior bone health recommendations,” said Lauve Metcalfe, MS, a co-investigator of the study.
University of Arizona, 2005. Press Release “Weight-Bearing Regimen and Calcium Citrate Proven to Increase Bone Mineral Density in Four-Year Research Study.”
Shoman, M., 2006. “Researchers Show the ‘BEST’ Way to Reduce Osteoporosis Risk,” About.com article.
Stanford, V. et al, 2005. The BEST Exercise Program for Osteoporosis Prevention,” Poster abstract for NOF conference.