Continuous exercise required to keep musculoskeletal strength

Supervised resistance and impact training can help preserve spine bone mineral density in older breast cancer survivors even after formal exercise training stops. However, muscle strength is not similarly maintained and requires continued participation in the exercise program, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship.

“Exercise programs aimed at improving musculoskeletal health should be considered in the long-term care plan for breast cancer survivors,” Jessica Dobek, of the Oregon Health and Science University, stated.

Baseline and post-intervention body composition and muscle strength tests from a previous study were completed by 67 women, 44 of which were available 1 year later for follow-up assessments. Researchers measured bone mineral density of the hip and spine, muscle mass and fat mass by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, while one-repetition maximum tests measured maximal upper and lower body strength. Using repeated-measures analysis of covariance and adjusting for age, researchers compared study outcomes between groups across baseline, 1 year and 2 years.

Researchers found significant group by time interactions for spine bone mineral density and lower body muscle strength with a trend for upper body muscle strength. Among exercisers, spine bone mineral density remained stable across intervention and follow-up periods vs. controls who experienced continuous losses across 1-year and 2-year periods. While lower body strength increased in exercisers across the intervention, it decreased to near-baseline level during follow-up vs. no change over either time period in controls, according to study results.

“Although further work is needed, our results may provide a beginning knowledge about the type, volume and length of exercise training needed to preserve bone health among long-term cancer survivors at risk of fracture,” Dobek stated.

For more information:

Dobek J. J Cancer Surviv. 2013;doi:10.1007/s11764-013-0313-7.

Disclosure: Dobek has no relevant financial disclosures.

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