Prevention better than cure for fracture risk in young women

Young woman exercising
OPTIMA-Ex study is aimed at determining the optimum mode of exercise to improve the bone strength of young women

A new study at Griffith University hopes to demonstrate to young women that their exercise regime today could prevent the onset of osteoporosis later in life.

Run by PhD candidate Conor Lambert from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland, the OPTIMA-Ex study is investigating the prevention of the condition by using impact and muscle-loading approaches to exercise in women aged 18-30.

In Australia, approximately one in four women aged over 50 and one in two women aged over 80 have osteoporosis and suffer with the pain and associated broken bones.

“However, it is not well known among younger people, that peak bone mass is thought to be attained by the end of the third decade of life, so therefore this period of young adulthood may be the last opportunity to make meaningful gains and stave off the likelihood of this common condition,” says Mr Lambert.

“While maintaining an active lifestyle and engaging in vigorous exercise is known to be a particularly effective strategy to maintain one’s health, the best type of exercise for strengthening bone and maximising bone mass gain is yet to be decided.

“High impact activities, for example jumping where the feet make firm contact with the ground, is considered one of the better exercise approaches for healthy lower limb bones.

“Other types of exercise, such as resistance training, have also demonstrated effectiveness for strengthening bones.

Optimum mode of exercise

“The key aim of the OPTIMA-Ex study is to determine the optimum mode of exercise to improve the bone strength of young women and so we are calling for healthy young adult women aged 18-30 with below average bone mass who do not currently participate in organised exercise.

“Initially, we are asking participants to come and see us for a testing session including free bone density scans to determine their current bone health status. If it is ascertained that they do have below average bone mass, then they will be asked to join up to one of our free twice-weekly exercise programs (approx. 30-40 minutes per session) for 10 months,” says Mr Lambert.

“These are designed to improve health and at the same time be enjoyable and time-efficient, with volunteers randomised to either:

  • supervised resistance training (weight training), OR
  • supervised impact training (boxing and jumping), OR
  • a home-based exercise program.

There will also be a follow-up testing session at the end of your exercise program including free bone density scans to assess your improvements.”

Contact Conor Lambert at conor.lambert@griffithuni.edu.au, phone 0404 806 749 or visit our website to register your interest www.optima-ex.com