As we reach middle age, our muscles and bones gradually and
progressively weaken. Performing strength exercises can counteract
these effects, although how long the positive effects last
is uncertain. A recent study in the journal Bone investigated
the long-term protective effects of stronger back muscles
on bone mineral density (BMD) in the spine, which is a measure
of bone strength.
Fifty postmenopausal women, ages 58-75, were divided into
two groups: roughly half completed progressive back-strengthening
exercises for two years; the other half did not and were used
for comparison. To strengthen their back muscles, the women
performed back-arching exercises while wearing a weighted
backpack. At the end of the study and again eight years later,
the women were examined for BMD, back muscle strength, and
physical activity levels.
At the eight-year follow-up, women who had not strengthened
their back muscles were almost three times more likely to
have fractures in their spine, compared to women who had performed
the exercises. At the end of the two-year exercise program,
back strength was significantly higher in the exercise group,
but BMD was similar to that of the no-exercise group. Both
BMD and back strength were significantly higher in the exercise
group at the eight-year follow-up, however.
benefits of back exercises apparently continue up to eight
years after cessation, and perhaps even longer. Increasing
back strength may reduce your risk for vertebral fractures
later in life. Talk to your doctor of chiropractic about ways
to safely and effectively strengthen your back muscles.
Sinaki M, Itoi E, Wahner HW, et al. Stronger back muscles
reduce the incidence of vertebral fractures: A prospective
10-year follow-up of postmenopausal women. Bone 2002:30(6),
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