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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 9:56 EDT

Exercise Could Help Elderly Women Avoid Broken Bones

September 28, 2010

Elderly women can help stave off hip fractures and other broken bones through exercise, claims a new study published in the September 27 edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In fact, according to Reuters Health, “The researchers found that just 20 minutes of at-home exercise daily, interspersed with six months of supervised weekly training every year, over the course of five years helped increase women’s gait stability and cut their risk of fracture by 32 percent.”

The study, which was led by Raija Korpelainen of the Oulu Deaconess Institute in Finland, involved 160 elderly women who suffered from osteopenia, a condition that results in a reduction of bone mass and/or low levels of bone calcium. The subjects were split into two groups: an 84-person exercise group and a 76-person control group.

“Women in the exercise group attended supervised balance, leg strength and impact training sessions once a week for a 6-month period from October to March each year from 1998 to 2001,” officials from the American Medical Association (AMA), publishers of the Archives of Internal Medicine, said in a statement. “The average observation time for both groups was 7.1 years.”

“During the follow-up time, 17 women in the exercise group were hospital-treated for fractures, while 23 fractures occurred in the control group,” the AMA press release added. “Additionally, the total incidence rate of fractures in the exercise group was 0.05 per 1,000 women per year versus 0.08 in the control group”¦ Additionally, no hip fractures occurred in the exercise group during the follow-up period, while five hip fractures occurred in the control group.”

Furthermore, according to Reuters Health, the women who had engaged in moderate physical activity throughout their lives were 78-percent less likely to suffer a fracture during the follow-up examination, and of the nine study participants who had died during the course of the survey, only one was a member of the exercise group–though Korpelainen and colleagues warn that the small size of the study group “limits” the ability to correlate exercise and mortality rate.

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