An update on the effect of exercise on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women

A meta-analysis of intervention studies published in Osteoporosis International has provided further evidence on positive effects of exercise on bone mineral density (BMD) at the lumbar spine (LS), femoral neck (FN), and total hip (TH) in postmenopausal women.

Mohebbi and his co-researchers evaluated the data from 80 studies including 5581 participants divided into 94 training and 80 control groups. The inverse heterogeneity model (IVhet) was used to achieve consistent results in heterogeneous studies. However, the use of the IVhet method has indicated a small exercise effect at LS, (standardized mean differences (SMD): 0.29), FN (SMD: 0.27), and TH (SMD: 0.41) BMD in postmenopausal women. Besides, the effect of exercise on BMD at LS did not differ across the study arms with or without osteopenia/osteoporosis, early versus late postmenopausal women, and supervised versus unsupervised exercise programs.  The researchers also noted that differences in bone status menopausal status, and supervision did not influence the exercise effects on BMD at LS or proximal femur.

In concurrence with these findings, Shojaa et al. (2022) have found a significant but small effect of exercise on BMD in postmenopausal women. They analyzed 75 studies and noted bone and menopausal status are the two factors that contribute to the higher degree of heterogeneity between the studies.

The findings further emphasized that it is difficult to conclude the true effect of exercise on BMD due to substantial amount of studies with inadequate exercise protocols. Hence, further trials for developing exercise recommendations and studying the exercise effect on BMD are warranted.


  1. Mohebbi R, Shojaa M, Kohl M, von Stengel S, Jakob F, Kerschan-Schindl K, Lange U, Peters S, Thomasius F, Uder M, Kemmler W. Exercise training and bone mineral density in postmenopausal women: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention studies with emphasis on potential moderators. Osteoporosis International. 2023 Feb 7:1-34.
  2. Shojaa M, Von Stengel S, Schoene D, Kohl M, Barone G, Bragonzoni L, Dallolio L, Marini S, Murphy MH, Stephenson A, Manty M. Effect of exercise training on bone mineral density in post-menopausal women: a systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention studies. Frontiers in Physiology. 2020 Jun 23;11:652.