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Certain exercises could decrease osteoporosis risk

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Weight-lifting and jumping exercises can help middle-aged men with low bone mass improve their bone density, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Missouri suggested that these exercises may help prevent osteoporosis by facilitating bone growth.

The study, which included 38 physically active men with an average age of 44, showed that certain types of resistance training and jumping exercises, when completed for at least six months, improved bone density.

Participants completed either a weight-lifting programme or a jumping programme for a year, with both exercise plans requiring them to complete 60-120 minutes of targeted exercises each week. Throughout the course of the study the participants also took calcium and vitamin D supplements.

The researchers measured the men´s bone mass at the beginning of the study and again at six and 12 months using X-ray scans of the whole body, hip and lumbar spine.

Results showed that the bone mass of the whole body and lumbar spine significantly increased after six months of completing either programme, and this increase was maintained at 12 months. Hip-bone density only increased among those who completed the weight-lifting programme.

“Weight-lifting programmes exist to increase muscular strength, but less research has examined what happens to bones during these types of exercises,” commented Pam Hinton, an associate professor and the director of nutritional sciences graduate studies at the University of Missouri.

“Our study is the first to show that exercise-based interventions work to increase bone density in middle-aged men with low bone mass who are otherwise healthy. These exercises could be prescribed to reverse bone loss associated with ageing.”

Hinton noted that the study results do not indicate that all kinds of weight-lifting will help improve bone mass, but that targeted exercises made the training programmes effective.

She also highlighted the fact that both of the training programmes gradually increased in intensity, and participants had rest weeks. “Bones need to rest to continue to maximise the response,” she said.

People don´t need to know they have osteoporosis to start doing targeted exercise, Hinton concluded.

“The interventions we studied are effective, safe and take 60-120 minutes per week to complete, which is feasible for most people. Also, the exercises can be done at home and require minimal exercise equipment, which adds to the ease of implementing and continuing these interventions.”