Weight Vest Research

Weight Vest Research

Janet Shaw did a long-term study at Oregon State University. She found that postmenopausal women who participate in a long-term fitness regimen that includes jumping and “resistance” exercises using weighted vests can prevent significant bone loss in the hip.

Dr Christine Snow, who was the Director of the Bone Research Laboratory, and Shaw got together with other women to start a grassroots program for Osteoporosis Risk Reduction and spread it all over Oregon as an adult education course.

“These kinds of results from an exercise routine haven’t been achieved before and they contradict what the medical community has been saying for years.” Snow said. “One important aspect of the study is its longevity. When we checked these women after nine months, the results for bone mass weren’t significant.After five years, though, the improvement was significant,” she added. “Exercise was as good or better than either estrogen or Fosamax for preventing bone loss.”

Here is a more complete overview of the study.

And more articles about the bone loss studies.

Original Oregon Study Results.

Wall Street Journal article, August 2013.

 Ms Snow had a website selling videos and vests. She recommends jumping every day with the weight vest on. I would only recommend jumping on a mini-trampoline or rebounder to protect your knees.

Another study was written up in the Biological Research for Nursing newsletter in 2003. Eighteen women over 60 were randomly assigned to an exercise group wearing a weight vest and doing strength training for one hour three times a week, or to a control group that did nothing. The weight vest group had significant changes in bone density and in weight loss in 32 weeks. http://brn.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/4/3/171

A study by Sinaki et al was reported in the Mayo Clinic Newsletter in July, 2005 of 12 women and 12 controls who wore a weighted backpack during exercise to test if it would help to improve balance and prevent falls. Since falls are the most prevalent causes of injury in osteoporosis the study is very relevant.

After 4 weeks of treatment, significant changes were noted in balance and gait parameters, back extensor strength had improved, and back pain had decreased significantly.

The link to this newsletter is broken, probably because it was so long ago.


Weight-bearing regimen and calcium citrate proven to increase bone mineral density

Osteoporosis International, the leading clinical publication on the disease, published data from the Bone Estrogen Strength Training (BEST) Study at The University of Arizona which confirmed that a specific regimen of weight-bearing and resistance exercises, combined with calcium citrate supplement over four years, provided significant improvement in bone mineral density (BMD) of postmenopausal women at key skeletal sites, whether or not they were on hormone therapy (HT).

The findings from this four-year study indicate that the protective measures of adequate calcium supplementation and resistance exercise improve bone mineral density. Women can lose 10 to 20 percent of their BMD as they age, (80% of those affected by osteoporosis are women), but the researchers found that on average women following the exercise and calcium regimen not only did not lose bone density, but increased it by 1 to 2 percent.

“The good news is these long-term data confirmed the potent combination of improved nutrition and increased physical activity to prevent bone loss. The extended use of calcium supplementation and exercise counteracted the typical loss of BMD in women at this age, in a regimen that women really can stick with,” said Timothy Lohman, PhD, principal investigator for the study, director of the UA Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition (CPAN) and UA professor of physiology. “This is quite significant for younger women as well, as these exercises and calcium supplementation can help build peak BMD which may prevent health problems and osteoporosis in the future.”

BEST Study Co-Investigator Lauve Metcalfe, MS, director of Program Development and Community Outreach for CPAN and an exercise interventionist with the UA Department of Physiology, added, “What sets this regimen apart is the six specific exercises that help build bone in the wrist, hip and spine–three key fracture sites. This type of weight-bearing exercise now is proven to be beneficial and represents a shift in prior bone health recommendations. It previously was thought that any type of exercise was helpful, but now we understand that resistance and weight-bearing exercise are essential.”

This study was paid for by the company that makes the specific calcium supplement used in the study.

A previous study was done by George Salem, co-director of the Department of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy’s Gait and Motion Analysis Laboratory, in tandem with Gail Greendale, associate professor at UCLA’s Department of Geriatrics.

Dr Salem said that most people lose 40 percent of the muscle strength in their legs and back between the ages of 30 and 80. Also, public health officials estimate the costs associated with osteoporosis at about $6 to $7 billion annually, although those costs are expected to rise to $30 billion as baby boomers age.

“Obviously it’s an important problem. As our population becomes older and lives longer, we’re going to have to deal with decreased function, decreased independence, increased osteoporosis and increased risk of fracture,” Salem said.

Salem said that for 27 weeks, subjects will wear vests of 3 percent to 5 percent of their body weight to see if there are increases in lower extremity muscle strength.

During that time, researchers will use blood serum markers to determine the rate at which bones add mass. During a second study, researchers will measure bone mineral density in the lumbar vertebrae and proximal femur.

It seems that there is a lot of interest in this topic, but University studies need funding and the drug companies are not going to fund anything that will take away their business. I think also that the length of time necessary to make observable differences in bone is underestimated be some researchers. I talked to George Salem on the phone and he said he had determined that the studies needed to be a great deal longer in duration.

There is a study planned comparing weight vest exercise and weight training in strengthening muscles and improving balance in the elderly (over 65 – that’s hardly elderly). It is being done by the government but it was supposed to start in 2001 and end in 2006. I can’t find any finished results so I think they are not quite on schedule.

So, why wait for the definitive proof from studies and statistics? Wear a weight vest for a while and see how much better you will feel. What do you have to lose? You can certainly tell for yourself whether your core strength is improving, – and your enthusiasm for life as well.

Here is an interesting page on the net:http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2013/09/20/exercise-health-benefits.aspx

Dr Mercola has numerous articles on exercising and bone strength so explore his site through search if you have the time.