Effect of alendronate and exercise on bone and physical performance of postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial

Bone. 2003 Jul;33(1):132-43. doi: 10.1016/s8756-3282(03)00082-6.


In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled 12-month trial we evaluated effects of weight- bearing jumping exercise and oral alendronate, alone or in combination, on the mass and structure of bone, risk factors for falling (muscle strength and power, postural sway, and dynamic balance), and cardiorespiratory fitness in postmenopausal women. A total of 164 healthy, sedentary, early postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to one of four experimental groups: (1) 5 mg of alendronate daily plus progressive jumping exercise, (2) 5 mg alendronate, (3) placebo plus progressive jumping exercise, or (4) placebo. The primary endpoint was 12-month change in bone mass and geometry (measured with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and peripheral computed tomography at several axial and limb sites) and physical performance; the secondary endpoint was change in biochemical markers of bone turnover. The jumping exercise was conducted an average 1.6 +/- 0.9 (mean +/- SD) times a week. Alendronate daily was effective in increasing bone mass at the lumbar spine (alendronate vs placebo 3.5%; 95% CI, 2.2-4.9%) and femoral neck (1.3%; 95% CI, 0.2-2.4%) but did not affect other bone sites. Exercise alone had no effect on bone mass at the lumbar spine or femoral neck; it had neither an additive nor an interactive effect with alendronate at these bone sites. However, at the distal tibia the mean increase of 3.6% (0.3-7.1%) in the section modulus (that is, bone strength) and 3.7% (0.1-7.3%) increase in the ratio of cortical bone to total bone area were statistically significant in the exercise group compared to the nonexercise group, indicating exercise-induced thickening of the bone cortex. Bone turnover was reduced in alendronate groups only. Alendronate had no effect on physical performance while the jumping exercise improved leg extensor power, dynamic balance, and cardiorespiratory fitness. As conclusion Alendronate is effective in increasing bone mass at the lumbar spine and femoral neck, while exercise is effective in increasing the mechanical properties of bone at some of the most loaded bone sites, as well as improving the participants' muscular performance and dynamic balance. Together alendronate and exercise may effectively decrease the risk of osteoporotic fractures.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alendronate / pharmacology*
  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Bone Remodeling / drug effects
  • Bone Remodeling / physiology
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Femur Neck / drug effects
  • Femur Neck / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / drug effects
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause / drug effects*
  • Postmenopause / physiology
  • Risk Factors


  • Alendronate