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Adv Clin Exp Med. 2012 Sep-Oct;21(5):645-52.

The effect of menopause on bone tissue in former swimmers and in non-athletes.

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Physical Education Department, Faculty of Physical Education in Biala Podlaska, Poland.



An increased loss of bone density during the first years after menopause induces osteoporosis.


The aim of the research presented in this paper was to ascertain the difference in the rate of involutional changes in bone tissue in former athletes and in non-athletes of the same age.


The research involved 18 former swimmers and 18 females of similar age who had never practiced sports. The subjects were subdivided into two subgroups: Subgroup I had been post-menopausal for < or = 5 years, and Subgroup II for > 5 years; this was done to assess bone mineral content relative to the length of the postmenopausal time period. Bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD) were measured in lumbar vertebrae by dual-emission X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Bone strength was measured in the heel using the bone stiffness index. Each subject was examined twice, with a one-year period in between. A diagnostic questionnaire was used to compile date on the subjects' physical activity and their gonad functioning. Dietary habits (calcium intake) were established by three interviews and the Dieta 4.0 computer program. Results. Anthropometric features did not differentiate the subjects in the subgroups. Former athletes in both subgroups spent off-work time on physical activities significantly more frequently. In both groups, calcium intake was sufficient and did not exceed 3/4 of the daily norm. A higher calcium intake was found in former athletes compared to non-athletes. The subjects in Subgroup I had significantly greater BMC and BMD than those in Subgroup II. In Subgroup I, the second examination showed somewhat lower reductions in BMC and BMD among the former athletes than among the non-athletes. In Subgroup II, BMC and BMD increased somewhat among the former athletes, while non-significant reductions were observed in the BMC and BMD of the non-athletes. All the subjects undertook pharmacologic treatment after the first examination, which caused improvement of bone parameters in the second examination.


The rate of bone mass loss in former athletes proved to be consistent with the involutional process and similar to that of non-athletes. The reduced BMD in the lumbar vertebrae of 22% of the women in the study demonstrates the need for regular densitometric examinations in postmenopausal females.

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