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Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 1984 Oct;3(3):243-8.

Effects of a training programme for elderly people on mineral content of the heel bone.


Physical inactivity can cause rapid bone loss. Different forms of physical activity are recommended for osteoporosis. The scientific background for such recommendations, however, is usually weak. This study was performed to evaluate whether it is possible to influence bone mineral content in elderly people by regular exercise. A total of 15 women with a mean age of 72 yr took part in a study in which they were given 1 h of training twice a week for 9 mth. Physically inactive patients from an outpatient geriatric unit served as a control group. They were matched in age and did not suffer from diseases that affect the locomotor system. After 10 mth of training no significant increase in bone mineral content, measured in the heel bone, could be found among the participants in the training group. Bone mineral content in the trained subjects was however, significantly higher after this training period than in the control group. The decrease in bone mineral content in the control group was almost the same as in a representative group of the population aged 70 to 79 yr. The cause of the decreased loss of bone mineral content in the physically-active subjects in the study could not be determined, but some contributing factors are discussed. Thus, it appears that physical activity diminishes bone loss due to age and that physical training has a positive effect on bone mineral content compared to that of nonactive controls of the same age. As there are no negative side effects, it has advantages over other forms of therapy, such as pharmacological treatment.

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