Detraining reverses positive effects of exercise on the musculoskeletal system in premenopausal women

J Bone Miner Res. 2000 Dec;15(12):2495-503. doi: 10.1359/jbmr.2000.15.12.2495.


We studied the effects of a 6-month withdrawal of exercise after 12 months of progressive impact (jump) plus lower body resistance training on risk factors for hip fracture in premenopausal women (age, 30-45 years). Twenty-nine women completed the 12-month training and detraining programs and were compared with 22 matched controls. Bone mineral density (BMD) at the greater trochanter, femoral neck, lumbar spine, and whole body and body composition (% body fat) were measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA; Hologic QDR-1000/W). Knee extensor and hip abductor strength were assessed via isokinetic dynamometry (Kin-Com 500H); maximum leg power was tested using a Wingate Anaerobic Power test; and dynamic postural stability was measured on a stabilimeter (Biodex). All measurements were conducted at baseline, 12 months and 18 months with an additional midtraining measurement of BMD. Exercisers trained three times per week in a program of 100 jumps and 100 repetitions of resistance exercises at each session. Intensity was increased using weighted vests to final values of 10% and 13% of body weight (BW) for jump and resistance exercises, respectively. Differences between groups from training were analyzed by repeated measures analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), adjusted for baseline values. Detraining effects were analyzed by comparing the changes from training with the changes from detraining using repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA). Baseline values were not significantly different between exercisers and controls. Percent change over the training period was significantly greater in the exercise group than in the control group at the greater trochanter (2.7 +/- 2.5% vs. 0.8 +/- 0.8%, respectively; p < 0.01) and approached significance at the femoral neck (1.2 +/- 3.2% vs. -0.3 +/- 1.9%, respectively; p = 0.06). Significant improvements also were observed in exercisers versus controls for strength and power with exercisers increasing 13-15% above controls, whereas stability was not different between groups. After 6 months of detraining, BMD and muscle strength and power decreased significantly toward baseline values, whereas control values did not change. We conclude that the positive benefits of impact plus resistance training on the musculoskeletal system in premenopausal women reverse when training is withdrawn. Therefore, continued training, perhaps at a reduced frequency and intensity, is required to maintain the musculoskeletal benefit from exercise that may lower fracture risk in later life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Composition
  • Bone Density*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / prevention & control*
  • Premenopause*
  • Tensile Strength