Exercise at Menopause: A Critical Difference

Margaret Burghardt, MD


Medscape General Medicine. 1999;1(3) 

In This Article

Osteoporosis: Exercise vs Estrogen and Nutritional Supplementation

Estrogen replacement is the most effective means of decreasing bone loss in the postmenopausal female. For women in a state of estrogen depletion, exercise alone does not prevent bone loss. Drinkwater and colleagues[32] found significantly lower spinal density in amenorrheic athletes than in matched eumenorrheic controls.

Exercise is not superior to estrogen, especially in the early postmenopausal group (<5 years from menopause), in whom the magnitude of spinal bone loss is greatest. The most practical approach to postmenopausal osteoporosis comprises regular exercise and estrogen replacement as well as proper nutrition, including an adequate dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D. It is important for women to consult their physicians to learn about their risk factors for osteoporosis and their treatment options. Important risk factors include low body weight, inactivity during youth, family history of osteoporosis, Caucasian race, steroid use, and smoking.