High-impact exercise increased femoral neck bone density with no adverse effects on imaging markers of knee osteoarthritis in postmenopausal women

© 2019 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research High-impact exercise can improve femoral neck bone mass but findings in postmenopausal women have been inconsistent and there may be concern at the effects of high-impact exercise on joint health. We investigated the effects of a high-impact exercise intervention on bone mineral density (BMD), bone mineral content (BMC), and section modulus (Z) as well as imaging biomarkers of osteoarthritis (OA) in healthy postmenopausal women. Forty-two women aged 55 to 70 years who were at least 12 months postmenopausal were recruited. The 6-month intervention consisted of progressive, unilateral, high-impact exercise incorporating multidirectional hops on one randomly assigned exercise leg (EL) for comparison with the contralateral control leg (CL). Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) was used to measure BMD, BMC, and Z of the femoral neck. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the knee joint was used to analyze the biochemical composition of articular cartilage using T2 relaxometry and to analyze joint pathology associated with OA using semiquantitative analysis. Thirty-five participants (61.7 ± 4.3 years) completed the intervention with a mean adherence of 76.8% ± 22.5%. Femoral neck BMD, BMC, and Z all increased in the EL (+0.81%, +0.69%, and +3.18%, respectively) compared to decreases in the CL (−0.57%, −0.71%, and −0.75%: all interaction effects p < 0.05). There was a significant increase in mean T2 relaxation times (main effect of time p = 0.011) but this did not differ between the EL and CL, indicating no global effect. Semiquantitative analysis showed high prevalence of bone marrow lesions (BML) and cartilage defects, especially in the patellofemoral joint (PFJ), with no indication that the intervention caused pathology progression. In conclusion, a high-impact exercise intervention that requires little time, cost, or specialist equipment improved femoral neck BMD with no negative effects on knee OA imaging biomarkers. Unilateral high-impact exercise is a feasible intervention to reduce hip fracture risk in healthy postmenopausal women. © 2019 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.