Exercise that combines light weights and jumping may be just as effective as hormone therapy in helping older women keep their bones strong, according researchers from Oregon State University.
Weight-bearing exercise builds muscle strength and improves balance, cutting a women's risk of falling-the major cause of hip injuries in the elderly.
For five years, the Oregon researchers followed nine women who performed lower-body strengthening three times per week. At the end of the study, the investigators compared their subjects' hipbone density with that of nine ('control') women who exercised, but did not perform the weight-bearing jumps.
While controls lost bone density at all three hip areas measured, the jumpers lost significantly less bone overall and actually gained bone mass in one area. The differences in bone density between the two groups ranged from 3% to 5%. Though seemingly small, the researchers noted that a 5% advantage in bone mass equals a 30% reduction in fracture risk.
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