What Are the Bone Benefits of the Better Bones and Balance Exercise Program?

In a recent study, US researchers evaluated the impact of Better Bones and Balance™ (BBB)—a community-based exercise program that has been shown to reduce fall and fracture risk and bone loss in the hip in postmenopausal women in controlled laboratory settings.

Until now, researchers weren’t sure whether bone health benefits are obtained from BBB when delivered in a community setting.

To investigate this more deeply, the research team evaluated the relationship between community-based BBB participation and parameters of skeletal health in postmenopausal women.

The results of their study were published online in late October 2011in the article “The influence of participation in Better Bones and Balance™ on skeletal health: evaluation of a community-based exercise program to reduce fall and fracture risk.” It will appear soon in Osteoporosis International.

Women (69 + 7.7 years old) were recruited from BBB classes (n=69) and compared to low active/sedentary control subjects (n=46).

Bone mineral density (BMD) of both the hip and spine was measured using DXA. Hip bone structure (cross-sectional area, cross-sectional moment of inertia) at the narrow neck and intertrochanter was obtained using hip structural analysis software.

Study participants were also given questionnaires that asked about diet, physical activity, and health history.

Group differences in bone outcomes were determined using analysis of co-variance, controlling for age and body mass.

Investigators determined that although control subjects weighed more and had greater total body BMD compared to BBB participants (p<0.05), there were no differences between the 2 groups in hip or spine BMD or in bone structural outcomes (p>0.05).

This was observed even though BBB participants reported more frequent previous diagnoses of—or risk factors for—osteoporosis compared to control subjects.

In addition, the researchers found that control subjects and BBB participants had higher than average T-scores in the hip (p<0.05) when compared to an age-matched cohort from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Researchers also found that both groups had higher than expected hip BMD, despite higher risk for osteoporosis among BBB participants.

Although these data suggest that participation in BBB may not result in direct benefits to bone health, this study indicates that long-term participation in BBB may be associated with other positive outcomes.