The Effects of Hormonal Therapy and Exercise on Bone Turnover in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomised Double-Blind Pilot Study

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Introduction: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and walking were investigated independently and in combination, to determine which treatment provided most effect on bone turnover in postmenopausal women.

Methods: Using a randomised double-blind pilot study, 10 subjects received HRT (transdermal estradiol, 50 μg/day and oral MPA 5 mg/day) and 12 received placebo for 20 weeks. Following a baseline period of treatment, both groups undertook a graduated walking regimen, which increased in intensity, duration and frequency parameters from weeks 8–20. Measurements of aerobic capacity, female sex hormones, bone formation markers [osteocalcin (OC) and bone alkaline phosphatase (BAP)] and bone resorption markers [deoxypyridinoline (DPD) and pyridinoline (PYR)] were measured at baseline (T1), week 8 (T2) and week 20 (T3).

Results: Age, time of postmenopause, weight or body mass index were no different between each groups. The HRT group had significantly higher estradiol levels compared with the placebo group at T2 and T3. FSH and LH levels were significantly reduced following HRT. DPD and PYR were significantly reduced from baseline levels at T2 and T3 with HRT. No significant changes occurred in OC or BAP levels with either HRT or walking. Walking did not change bone turnover markers in either the HRT or placebo group.

Conclusion: HRT reduces bone resorption, however, walking alone at the intensity and duration prescribed, or the combination of HRT and walking, provided no additional benefit after menopause. Therefore, HRT, but not walking is an effective treatment in reducing bone turnover in postmenopause women.

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