Sports scientists have created a physical exercise program specifically designed to combat osteoporosis by improving upper and lower body strength as well as balance in older women.
The program, designed by Montserrat Otero of the University of the Basque Country, relies on very basic, rudimentary materials to reduce the risk of the bone-wasting disease, which greatly increases a person's risk of fractures. Most women start losing bone after the age of 35 and it often accelerates after menopause.
But Otero’s research found a simple program of physical exercise using basic materials — bottles filled with sand, marbles and stones, ropes, chairs — can improve muscle strength and balance in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.
For the study, Otero tracked 68 women with postmenopausal osteoporosis — about half of whom performed a series of regular 60-minute exercises involving strength and balance training for six months; half did not. Each session involved between five and eight balance exercises and between eight and 12 strength-training exercises.
The results showed the women who exercised had marked improvement in strength and balance, compared to the women who did not exercise.
"Those in the exercise group significantly improved their performance in muscular strength of the upper and lower limbs, while those in the [other] group significantly worsened in both variables," said Otero. “With respect to the balance variable, the exercise group experienced a significant improvement after the intervention.”
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