During lactation, women may lose up to 10% of bone mineral density (BMD) at trabecular-rich sites. Previous studies show that resistance exercise may slow BMD; however, the long-term effects of exercise on BMD during lactation have not been reported.
To evaluate the effect of two 16-week exercise interventions (4- to 20-wk postpartum) in lactating women at 1-year postpartum on lumbar spine, total body, and hip BMD.
To increase sample size at 1-year postpartum, two 16-week exercise interventions were combined for analysis. At 4-week postpartum, 55 women were randomized to intervention group (weight bearing aerobic exercise and resistance exercise) or control group (no exercise) for 16-week, with a 1-year postpartum follow-up. BMD was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Repeated-measures analysis of covariance was used to test for time and group differences for BMD controlling for prolactin concentration and dietary calcium at 1-year postpartum.
Change in lumbar spine BMD was significantly different over time and between groups from 4-week to 1-year postpartum, when controlling for prolactin concentration and dietary calcium. There were no significant differences between groups in total body and hip BMD.
These results suggest that resistance exercise may slow bone loss during lactation, resulting in higher BMD levels at 1-year postpartum.