New Insights in Clinical Medicine

The Role of Exercises in Osteoporotic Fracture Prevention and Current Care Gaps. Where Are We Now? Recent Updates

Helen Senderovich, Henry Tang, and Samuel Belmont


Introduction: The primary non-pharmacological management recommended for patients with osteoporosis (OP) is exercise, but whether it should be high-force, resistive, or other means can be obscure. Objective: To describe the role of exercises in osteoporotic fracture prevention, identify effects and potential risks of high-force exercises, detect the optimal exercises to combat OP, and explore the challenges that might arise from interventions. Methods: A search on MEDLINE and Cochrane databases was conducted on the role of exercises in preventing osteoporotic fractures from 1989 onwards, leading to 40 results, including op-ed pieces, qualitative studies, randomized clinical trials (RCTs) (n=5), and RCT follow-up studies (n=1). Articles deemed relevant to the objectives were analyzed and summarized. Data on effects of vitamin D and calcium supplementation were later gathered from different sources as well. Results: High-intensity, resistive strength training provided the maximum benefit in increasing bone mineral density (BMD) levels, muscle mass, and reduction in fractures, while posture and balance exercises only improved mobility. High-force exercises did not increase fractures and were associated with increases in BMD. Interventions including exercises, vitamin D, and calcium intake had limited effect when used as single interventions, while vitamin D and calcium may potentially cause increases of cardiovascular events. Conclusion: A long-term regular exercise program designed to improve postural stability, mobility, and mechanical efficiency, alongside an increased vitamin D and dietary calcium intake, is most effective in preventing OP and reducing osteoporotic fractures.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2017;8(3):e0032