Impact of a 12-month exercise program on the physical and psychological health of osteopenic women

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1996 Jul;44(7):756-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1996.tb03730.x.


Objective: To describe the effect of a supervised physical activity program on the physical and psychological health of osteopenic women.

Design: A randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.

Participants: A total of 124 community-living postmenopausal women, between 50 and 70 years of age, with low bone mass took part in the study.

Intervention: Subjects allocated to the experimental group performed weight-bearing exercises (walking, stepping up and down from benches), aerobic dancing, and flexibility exercises for 60 minutes, three times a week, over a period of 12 months. All subjects were invited to attend bi-monthly educational seminars covering topics related to osteoporosis.

Outcome measures: Spinal and femoral bone mineral density (BMD), functional fitness (flexibility, coordination, agility, strength/endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance), psychological well-being, back pain intensity, and self-perceived health.

Results: Spinal BMD stabilized in the exercisers while decreasing significantly in the controls (P = .031). No change in femoral BMD was observed in either group (P = .597). Four of the five parameters chosen to evaluate functional fitness, namely flexibility, agility, strength, and endurance, were affected positively by the exercise program (all P < .01). Adjusting for prescores by means of an analysis of covariance revealed a significant difference between the groups in psychological well-being, which favored the exercisers (P = .012). After 12 months, back pain reported by exercisers was lower than that reported by controls (P = .008). Finally, self-perceived health increased in the exercise group, whereas no difference was observed in the control group (P = .790).

Conclusion: These results suggest that after 12 months, exercising can produce a significant increase above initial levels in the functional fitness, well-being, and self-perceived health of osteopenic women. Intensity of back pain can also be lowered by exercise. The exercise program succeeded in stabilizing spinal BMD but had no effect on femoral BMD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bone Density
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / physiopathology
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / psychology
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / therapy*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Physical Fitness
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Treatment Outcome