Effects of Walking-only Interventions on Bone Mineral Density at Various Skeletal Sites: A Meta-analysis

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Background and purpose

Osteoporosis, a common disease in postmenopausal women and the elderly, is associated with decreases in bone mineral density (BMD) and fractures. As weight-bearing activity such as walking has the potential to maintain or increase BMD, I sought in this meta-analysis to mathematically consolidate research on the effects of walking interventions on BMD.


A literature search for studies examining the effect of walking on BMD in postmenopausal women and men and women aged 50 years and older was conducted. Search strategies included online literature searches, hand-searches of journals, and examination of the reference lists of articles selected for inclusion. Effect sizes were calculated for each article selected for inclusion and a meta-analysis was conducted for these articles.


Ten articles met the inclusion criteria for the meta-analysis. Walking had a significant (P < .03) positive effect (.32) on lumbar BMD but not on the femur or the calcaneus.

Discussion and Conclusion:

The results of this meta-analysis do not suggest that walking interventions alone will limit demineralization at all skeletal sites. Perhaps other forms of exercise in addition to walking should be incorporated into training regimens for patients at risk for osteoporosis.

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