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Leisure time physical activity and bone mineral density preservation during the menopause transition and postmenopause: a longitudinal cohort analysis from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN)

Whether greater leisure time physical activity (LTPA) is associated with less bone mineral density (BMD) loss during the menopause transition (MT) remains an open question. We hypothesized that: 1) larger increases in LTPA from pre-/early perimenopause (period 1) to late perimenopause/postmenopause (period 2) would be associated with a slower period 2 BMD loss rate; and 2) greater entire-study LTPA levels would be associated with better final absolute BMD (g/cm2). Data were from of the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (1996-2017). Exclusions were: bone beneficial medications, inability to identify start of the MT, and extreme BMD change rates. LTPA measures were a validated ordinal scale and number of metabolic equivalents per hour per week (MET hr wk-1) from sport/exercise. Multiply adjusted, linear regression models estimated: 1) BMD decline rate (annualized %) as a function of LTPA change; and 2) final BMD as a function of entire-study LTPA. Median [p25, p75] MET hr wk-1 were 4.2 [0.9, 10.1] and 4.9 [1.4, 11.2] in periods 1 and 2, respectively; walking was the commonest activity. In adjusted models (N = 875), greater increases in LTPA ordinal score and MET hr wk-1 were statistically significantly associated with a slower decline in femoral neck (FN) BMD. Larger entire-study averages of each LTPA measure were statistically significantly related to better final FN and lumbar spine BMD levels. Findings suggest that LTPA, at modest levels, mitigate MT-related BMD decline and even small increases in intensity, duration or frequency of common activities may lessen bone loss at the population level. US-NIH.

Authors: Greendale, Gail A;Jackson, Nicholas J;Shieh, Albert;Cauley, Jane A;Karvonen-Gutierrez, Carrie;Ylitalo, Kelly R;Gabriel, Kelley Pettee;Sternfeld, Barbara;Karlamangla, Arun S

Lancet Reg Health Am. 2023 May;21:100481. Epub 2023-03-26.

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