MedWire News: The Better Bones and Balance (BBB) exercise regime has not yet demonstrated any significant affects on bone mass but researchers suggest that commitment to the program still holds benefits for elderly patients.
The BBB program was designed to reduce the risk for hip fracture in older adults by enhancing bone health and reducing fall risk. It is comprised of three 50 minute sessions of lower body resistance training per week, involving five main exercises: bench stepping, forward and side lunges, squats, heel drops, and jumps.
Previous research into the short-term benefits to strength, power, and balance, and into the longer term benefits to hip areal bone mineral density (aBMD) after 5 years, had promising results. Since these results were published the program has grown in popularity. "More classes are emerging throughout the USA, thereby increasing the need for evidence as to the effectiveness of the program in the community setting," write the authors of this latest study published in the journal Osteoporosis International.
Kathy Gunter and Allison McNamara from Oregon State University, Corvallis, USA, recruited 69 postmenopausal women attending BBB classes in Oregon's Linn and Benton counties, and 49 sedentary or "low active" controls for comparison. The mean age of all participants was 69 years.
The two groups were compared with respect to BMD of the hip and spine measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, and hip bone structure at the narrow neck and intertrochanter was determined using hip structural analysis software. Participants also completed a questionnaire designed to assess their diet, physical activity, and health history.
The control group were significantly heavier and had a higher total BMD compared with the BBB participants. However, there were no significant differences between the groups in hip or spine BMD or hip structure, even though BBB participants had a higher level of osteoporosis risk factors or diagnoses than controls at baseline.
The researchers suggest that this could be due to the fact that a community setting is more relaxed than the laboratory setting of past research that achieved different results.
"Despite the lack of group differences in bone parameters, there were observable positive differences between BBB participants and controls in that BBB participants exhibited more favorable body composition," they say. "Specifically, the BBB participant had lower [body mass index], lower percent body fat, and higher percentage of although the total lean mass did not differ between groups."
The authors therefore conclude: "BBB may confer health benefits that extend beyond improving fall and fracture risk."
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