TUCSON, Ariz.--Adding exercise to calcium supplementation, with or without hormone replacement therapy (HRT), can improve bone mineral density in postmenopausal women, thereby reducing the risk of osteoporosis, according to researchers from the University of Arizona, Tucson. Their study was printed in the August issue of Osteoporosis International (14, 8:637-43, 2003) (link.springer.de/link/service/journals/00198).
For 12 months, 320 healthy, non-smoking women were randomly assigned to either no exercise or an exercise regimen, which included weight training and cardiovascular weight-bearing exercise. All women were also given 800 mg/d of calcium citrate (as Citracal®, from Mission Pharmacal in Boerne, Texas). After the study period, the women who used HRT, calcium and exercise had significant increases in femoral neck, trochanteric (part of the femur) and lumbar spine bone mineral density. Trochanteric bone mineral density was also significantly increased in women who exercised and used calcium but were not taking HRT compared to women who used HRT but did not exercise.
Building bone mineral density is key to preventing osteoporosis, according to researchers, who noted the condition could be prevented through adequate calcium intake and good life-long exercise habits. "The good news is that this study has identified a powerful combination of improved nutrition and increased physical activity that prevents bone loss," said Timothy Lohman, Ph.D., professor of physiology at the U of A and principal investigator on the study. "The bottom line: when combined with calcium citrate supplementation, weight-bearing and resistance exercises offer a benefit in building bone mineral density."