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Title: Exercise and bone health in women
Author: Wilson, Jane H.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1998
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Objectives. To examine the effects of high intensity physical exercise and menstrual irregularity on the bone mineral density (BMD) of female athletes aged 16 - 65 years. Subjects. Group A comprised 50 middle or long-distance runners aged 16 to 35 years who ran at least 25 miles per week and trained for at least 3 hours per week. The remaining 74 veteran athletes aged 40 years or over were required to have run at least 15 miles per week or trained for at least 3 hours per week for the last three years. They were divided into premenopausal (Group B, n=50) and postmenopausal (Group C, n=24). Results. Group A was subdivided into athletes who were amenorrhoeic (0-3 menstrual cycles per year, AM, n=24), oligomenorrhoeic (4-9 cycles per year, OL, n=9) and eumenorrhoeic (10-13 cycles per year, EU, n=17). Bone mineral density was low in the AM group at all sites measured when compared to the EU group (p<0.0001), and compared to the age-matched European reference range (p<0.05 - p<0.001). BMD increased in a stepwise fashion with menstrual group and was high in the proximal femur in EU athletes compared to the European reference range (p<0.005). Group B was subdivided into athletes who had trained continuously since leaving school (All-timers, AT, n=24) and those who had started after the age of 30 years (late-starters, LS, n=27). Conclusions. Bone density at important fracture sites was substantially greater than expected in women undertaking long-term exercise in the oestrogenized state whether started in the 'teens or the thirties. When endogenous oestrogen levels are low the apparent beneficial effects of exercise are lost. In postmenopausal women this may be due to low body weight and body fat in those who are the most highly trained. Amenorrhoea in young adult life may have persistent effects on non weight-bearing sites. Individual circumstances must be assessed before exercise can be used as a prescription for the prevention of osteoporosis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (M.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available