The Bone Estrogen Strength Training Study
The Bone Estrogen Strength Training (BEST) Study was conducted between 1995 and 2001 with funding from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases (National Institutes of Health) and Mission Pharmacal Pharmaceutical Company. BEST investigated the effects of strength training on bone density in two groups of women - those on hormone replacement therapy by the advice of their physicians, and those who were not. The BEST team of investigators included an interdisciplinary team of researchers in the Departments of Physiology and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Arizona.
The BEST study was completed on 266 healthy, non-smoking, postmenopausal women, who were on average, 56 years of age. Approximately half took hormone replacement therapy (HRT) while the other half did not. All the women received calcium citrate supplements that provided 800 mg a day in divided doses. Women were followed for one year. Bone density was measured at the hip, spine, arm and total body using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and calcium supplementation compliance was monitored regularly through pill counts.
Women were randomized to either a control group or to an exercise group. The women in the exercise group performed supervised aerobic, weight-bearing and weightlifting exercises three times per week in community-based exercise facilities. To encourage and maintain interest in exercise for one year, the women participated in social support programs resulting in a high level of adherence.
Results from the study showed that weight bearing and resistance exercises over a one-year period, combined with Citracal? calcium supplementation, significantly improved bone mineral density at skeletal sites at risk for osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women.
The participants in the exercise were sedentary prior to enrolling, and as a result of the study, improved not only their bone density but their strength as well.
The BEST study demonstrated that a combination of adequate calcium intake with increased physical activity through strength training prevents bone loss in women regardless of HRT status. Ultimately, BEST showed that the key to achieving improved bone health is in the intensity of the workout and the level of resistance training performed on a weekly basis.
The BEST study findings led to the development of The BEST Exercise Program for Osteoporosis Prevention, Training Guide Book and a Continuining Education Course for health and fitness professionals.
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