I am a mid-50′s peri-menopausal woman with recently diagnosed osteopenia in my hips and lower spine. Can osteopenia by reversed with enough high-impact exercise (such as jogging?) is it true that HRT (particularly estrogen) is critical to preventing further bone-thinning? or is high-impact exercise enough?
Thanks again for providing this online resource!
Hi again Susan,
Exercise does indeed have a positive effect on bone density it women with osteopenia. Moderate walking has been shown to increase lumber bone density in women with osteopenia (Yamakazi, 2004).
“There is a significant correlation between muscle strength and bone mineral density.” – Sinaki, 1989.
It is important to note that osteopenia is not a disease (unlike osteoporosis which is a disease) but a condition that develops in response to changes in the body. Therefore, improved diet and exercise can help to reverse the condition. There are some supplements which may help too, one
Weight training is generally considered to be a most effective way to improve bone density. Walking and jogging may indeed help, but lifting weights will develop more muscle and make the bones stronger.
For hips and lower spine the best exercises will be squats, lunges and deadlifts. It is advisable to hire a personal trainer for a day to take you through these moves, or even if you join a gym ask specifically about these exercises in the gym induction.
From my reading it does not seem that HRT is critical to preventing further bone-thinning. Weight training and improved diet (esp. with more calcium etc.) seem to be enough. HRT may be more relevant if osteoporosis develops in post-menopause.
As well as diet and exercise, WebMD suggests reducing coffee (caffeine) and quitting smoking as ways to reduce osteopenia. Remember, you are not alone. Gwyneth Paltrow suffers from osteopenia too. We know that she had started strength training for some of her film roles – this may be helping with her condition too.
Susan also asked What Exercise To Tone Body and Face?
“Effect of walking exercise on bone metabolism in postmenopausal women with osteopenia/osteoporosis” by Satoshi Yamazaki, Shoichi Ichimura, Jun Iwamoto, Tsuyoshi Takeda, Yoshiaki Toyama. Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism. September 2004, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 500-508
“Exercise and osteoporosis” by Sinaki M. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation [1989, 70(3):220-229]
“The Effect of Physical Activity on Bone Accrual, Osteoporosis and
Fracture Prevention” by Anna Nordström. The Open Bone Journal, 2011, 3, 11-21.