Loughborough University: Women needed for new study on improving bone and joint health through exercise

Participants are needed for a new Loughborough University study that will look at how exercise may help prevent conditions such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

Supported by the Versus Arthritis Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis Research, the REPROOF (resistance exercise programme on risk of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis in females) project will be led by Dr Katherine Brooke-Wavell and Professor Jonathan Folland from the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences.

The study will build on previous research which found that brief hopping exercises improved bone strength at the hip. REPROOF will investigate the possible benefits of resistance exercise on bone and joint health and physical function, and for this the team needs to recruit healthy women aged 50-70 who are willing to take up regular exercise.

Volunteers will be invited to visit the University’s National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine for a DXA scan of bone density, MRI scans of the joints, and other measurements of muscle function and bone health.

Most women will be asked to come to the campus twice a week for eight months to carry out supervised exercise, using resistance training machines and body weight. Some women in a control group will carry on as usual. The measurements will be repeated at the middle and end of the study to discover the effects of the exercise programme.

Speaking about the research, Dr Katherine Brooke-Wavell said: “Our previous study found that brief hopping exercises improved bone strength at the hip, and so may reduce the risk of hip fracture. We now want to find out the best way to increase bone density at the spine as well as the hip. We also want to strengthen the muscles and joints of the leg and so improve physical function. This research will help improve understanding of how exercise may help prevent conditions such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

Postdoctoral researcher Dr Elisa Marques added: “Whilst we know that exercise is generally good for joints, bones and muscles, this study will compare two different types of exercise to help us better recommend exercise in future.”

Physiotherapy doctoral researcher, Ogulcan Caliskan said: “The exercise sessions each last less than an hour and will be with a small group of other women in a specialist facility, supervised carefully by researchers.

“The exercises start gently and build up gradually as your strength increases. The resistance machine exercises several muscle groups at the same time, whilst supporting the spine. We hope that you will feel stronger and more upright if you do the exercise, as well as finding out more about your health and helping improve knowledge in this area.”

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