Effect of exercise on bone mineral density and lean mass in postmenopausal women

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Jul;38(7):1236-44. doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000227308.11278.d7.


Purpose: To evaluate the effects of physical activity on bone mineral density, bone mineral content, and lean mass in postmenopausal, overweight/obese women.

Methods: We conducted a 12-month randomized controlled aerobic exercise intervention versus control in 173 sedentary, overweight/obese, postmenopausal women, aged 50-75 yr. The exercise prescription consisted of >or=45 min of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (60-75% of maximal heart rate), 5 d.wk for 12 months. Control participants attended 45-min stretching sessions once a week. Ninety-eight percent (N=170) completed the trial. Exercisers averaged 172 min.wk (SD=89) of exercise and expended 3828 kJ.wk (SD=2053). We assessed body fat, total lean mass, and total body bone mineral density and content using dual-energy x-ray absortiometry (DXA). We compared baseline with 12-month changes in exercisers versus controls.

Results: Exercisers lost significantly more weight than stretchers (1.3-kg loss vs 0.1-kg gain, P=0.01). However, no differences between exercisers and controls in the change from baseline to 12 months were detected: exercisers' average bone mineral density increased by 0.005 g.cm and controls' by 0.003 g.cm (P=0.61). Similarly, no significant differences were detected for bone mineral content. Lean mass increased by 0.2 kg in both groups (P=0.84).

Conclusion: Overall, the results from this randomized controlled study suggest that a yearlong moderate-intensity aerobic exercise intervention does not affect total body bone mineral density, bone mineral content, or lean mass in overweight/obese postmenopausal women.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Overweight
  • Postmenopause*
  • Thinness*
  • Washington