CORVALLIS - Oregon State University is seeking volunteers for an important new study that will look at the effects of water exercise on bone density and fall risk in postmenopausal women who have osteoporosis.
The study is unusual because most women with osteoporosis don't exercise regularly, said Christine Snow, director of the bone research laboratory at OSU. Most intervention strategies involve vitamin or drug supplements, she added.
"There is very little research in this area, because women with osteoporosis can't take the high-impact exercise we know builds bone density," Snow pointed out. "But one of our doctoral students, Tanya Littrell, developed a program using water exercise that is designed to 'load the spine' in the same way using muscle contractions, instead of impact.
"It has a great deal of potential," she added.
Littrell, a doctoral candidate in exercise physiology, said water exercise also should reduce the risk of falls by elderly women through increased balance, mobility, strength, endurance and reaction time.
"Utilizing water aerobics and other forms of water exercise can eliminate the fear factor that some elderly women - particularly those with osteoporosis - have about working out," Littrell said.
For the study, OSU is seeking women who are at least five years postmenopausal and osteoporotic at the hip or spine. The volunteers should either be on hormone replacement therapy for more than a year - or not on it at all.
Volunteers are sought for both exercise and control groups. All volunteers will be given bone density and functional fitness tests at the beginning and end of the study; those in the exercise group will be asked to attend water exercise classes in Corvallis or Albany for one year. The study is funded by the Aquatic Exercise Association and the John C. Erkkila Foundation.
To volunteer, or get more information on the study, contact Tanya Littrell at 541-737-3094.