According to WHO diagnostic criteria, approximately 22 million women and 5.5 million men between 50-84 years of age are estimated to have osteoporosis in the EU. In USA, 44 million people suffer from either osteoporosis or low bone mass (1). It is a serious condition that has a huge impact on the lives of the people suffering from it and therefore any new initiative that can contribute to either prevent the condition or minimize the impact of it is of great importance.
Many actions can be taken to preserve bone health and prevent low bone density. Amongst them are sufficient intake of Calcium, exposure to sun light and resistance and weight bearing exercise.
The contribution of physical activity to bone health is however poorly understood compared to other modifiable lifestyle risk factors such as diet, alcohol and smoking.
That is why a team of scientists and researchers at Exeter and Leicester University, Great Britain, has investigated the impact of physical activity on bone health and published the results last year.
SCOPE OF ACTIVITY AND PARTICIPANTS
The activity investigated was characterized by short, dynamic, sporadic bursts like short workouts.
1218 premenopausal women and 1316 postmenopausal women were included in the study. To reach their conclusions, the researchers asked their participants to wear activity monitors for a week and then compared this data to measurements of their bone health measured by an ultrasound scan of their heel bones. The activity data was broken down into single seconds to understand how people move in their daily lives (2).
Analyzing the data collected, it turned out that 1-2 minutes per day of high-intensity dynamic physical activity, equivalent to running in pre-menopausal women and slow jogging in post-menopausal women, is associated with better bone health.
As well as finding 4% better bone health among women who did one to two minutes of high-intensity, weight-bearing exercise, the researchers found 6% better bone health among those who did more than two minutes a day (3).
Although being conclusive, the study also has a few limitations. “Because this is a cross-sectional study, which assesses data taken from a subset of the population at a particular point in time, we can't be sure whether the high-intensity physical activity led to better bone health, or whether those with better bone health do more of this exercise. However, it seems likely that just 1-2 minutes of running a day is good for bone health,” says lead author Dr Victoria Stiles, of the University of Exeter (4).
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