The beneficial effects of exercise on BMD are lost after cessation: a 5-year follow-up in older post-menopausal women

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This study investigates whether the positive effects on bone mineral density (BMD, g/cm2) and neuromuscular function following a combined weight-bearing program are sustained in older women, a longer period after cessation of training. Thirty-four women (18 exercisers and 16 controls) aged 73-88 years, who completed a 12-month randomized-controlled trial, were invited to a 5-year follow-up assessment of BMD and neuromuscular function. Both groups sustained significant losses in BMD of the femoral neck, trochanter, and Ward's triangle during the follow-up period. Significant losses were also seen in all neuromuscular function tests. The inter-group change was, however, significant only for maximal walking speed where the exercise group had a significantly greater loss. In conclusion, this study suggests that gains in bone density and neuromuscular functions achieved by training are lost after cessation of training. Continuous high-intensity weight-loading physical activity is probably necessary to preserve bone density and neuromuscular function in older women.

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