UT Tyler study focuses on osteoporosis in women

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POSTED: Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 5:13pm

UPDATED: Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 6:54pm

The University of Texas at Tyler is conducting an exercise study for women more than the age of 60. The Department of Health and Kinesiology hopes that this study will help improve fitness, balance, vascular health and help prevent osteoporosis in women. There are three prominent problems women more than the age of 60 deal with: falling, losing bone mass, which causes them to have osteoporosis and cardiovascular issues. At the UT Tyler gym, two times a week, 15 women participate in this exercise study.

More than 40 million people in the United States either already have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass. But, it's more common in older women.

So, the Department of Kinesiology at UT Tyler's study is to see what weight baring objects can decrease that number.

"They start out by taking blood pressure and heart rate, then we go to the aerobics room for warm-ups, then they have 30 minutes of weight training that is interspersed with either aerobics or balance training, "said UT Tyler Professor Dr. Joyce Ballard.

More than a 100 women showed up to participate in the study but, they only chose 15 that had to be approved by their physicians.

"Some women that never do exercise, some women that moderately exercise and one lady that runs half marathons," said Dr. Ballard.

Barbara Smith was one of the 15 chosen.

"I'm going to live longer, be healthier, they teach you about keeping your back straight, I know I am going to have a better life because of this program," said Smith.

Smith already works out 3 times a week, but she said this study has already improved her health tremendously.

"Both my hands could not touch now both of my hands can touch and that's amazing."

And what makes this study even more interesting, Kinesiology students are conducting it.

15 students are paired up one-on-one with the 15 participants.

"It's a really great way to start exercising out like older women and see how to do it later on in the future," said junior Kinesiology student Courtney Dunstan.

The professors will publish this study in a medical journal and do presentations on it all across the country.

But, this is a one-of a kind study because Dr. Ballard said that this specific age group of women have never been tested with this kind of workout equipment. To study the growing problem of this disease, they've included men in their study. Dr. Ballard, who is a well-known exercise physiologist, will see if these 15 women in the study, can easily stand and sit in chairs, what's their mobility and what's their flexibility. She said in other words improving their physical abilities and their quality of life. The other professor will look at the blood flow in their arteries in a non-invasive way.

"Women don't get the opportunity to do this exercise. They are not going to march into any old gym and will say, I just want to use these machine. They don't know anything about the machines. To me, it just shows how lacking we are in giving opportunities for women over the age of 60 to exercise," said Dr. Ballard.

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