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Review: exercise reduces bone loss from the spine in postmenopausal women

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QUESTION: In postmenopausal women, does exercise slow bone loss or have an effect on axial and appendicular bone density?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching Medline, EMBASE/Excerpta Medica, CINAHL, HealthSTAR, Sports Discus, the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, PEDro, and the specialised registry of the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group (all from 1966 to January 2000). Bibliographies of relevant articles were reviewed, and experts in the field were contacted for additional studies and data.

Study selection

Studies published in any language were selected if they were randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing an exercise programme (eg, walking, callisthenics, resisted strengthening) assumed to be adequate to improve aerobic capacity or adequate to improve both aerobic capacity and muscle strength with standard treatment (eg, usual activity or placebo with or without drug consumption), and participants were healthy postmenopausal women 45–70 years of age.

Data extraction

Data were extracted on sample size, details of the intervention, study quality, and outcomes. Main outcomes included percent change (loss) from baseline of bone mineral density (BMD) per year and number of fractures of the hip, vertebrae, and wrist …

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  • For correspondence: Ms B Shea, Institute of Population Health, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. bevshea{at}

  • Source of funding: not stated.