Simple Exercise Interventions for Osteoporosis and Sarcopenia in Older Men

Musculoskeletal strength in older adults as they age can be preserved and improved by exercise, but it is unclear how strenuous the exercise must be in order to be effective.

Resistance training, whole body vibration, and use of spinal orthoses resulted in  significant improvements in musculoskeletal performance in in older men at risk for osteoporosis and sarcopenia, according to findings published in Bone Reports.

Investigators enrolled 57 men aged 65 through 90 years at risk of developing osteoporosis into a prospective, randomized, controlled, single center trial; 47 men completed the study. The men were divided into 4 groups: resistance training (n=11), whole body vibration (n=13), Qi Gong exercises (n=10), and spinal orthotics (n=13). Each group was studied for 6 months to determine efficacy in deterring age-related declines in musculoskeletal performance.

Primary endpoints included  change in isometric one repetition maximum force trunk strength for extension (TSE) and trunk strength for flexion (TSF) compared with baseline measurements. Secondary endpoints included geriatric functional capacity assessments such as Handgrip Strength, the Chair-Rise Test (CRT), the Usual Gait Speed (UGS), and the Timed-Up-and-Go (TUG) Test. The investigators collected measurements at three separate points: at baseline, at 3-months for an interim analysis, and 6 months at the study’s conclusion.

According to the researchers, resistance training significantly improved TSE (P =.009) and TSF (P =.013) and was the best of the four interventions in improving TSE (P =.038) in the between-group analysis. Whole body vibration improved TSE (P =.014) and Chair-Rise-Test results (P =.005), while wearing spinal orthoses improved Chair-Rise-Test results (P =.003) and gait speed (P =.027).

Subgroup analyses revealed that these simple exercise interventions had pronounced beneficial effects in the most vulnerable patient populations, specifically in men ≥ 80 years old, those with pre-sarcopenia, and those with multiple at least three chronic diseases. .

Study limitations included the small sample size, the piloting nature of the study, and heterogeneity in baseline data. The researchers also note that the enrolled patients’ motivation to voluntarily participate in an active exercise program such as this study was low.

“We found that exercise interventions are safe and feasible in elderly men, eliciting specific benefits, and that improvements are attained in those parameters addressed with the repetitive exercise modality,” the researchers concluded.

Disclosure: Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


Genest F, Lindström S, Scherer S, Schneider M, Seefried L. Feasibility of simple exercise interventions for men with osteoporosis – a prospective randomized controlled pilot study. Bone Rep. 2021;15:101099. doi:10.1016/j.bonr.2021.101099