Purpose: The goal of this study was to determine the association between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and bone mineral density (BMD) of the femoral neck (FN) in postmenopausal women using existing Cooper Center Longitudinal Study data. Materials and Methods: A cohort of 1,720 predominantly healthy Caucasian women (57.1 ± 6.9 years) underwent preventive medical examinations that included CRF assessment by maximal Balke treadmill testing and measurement of BMD by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. CRF was estimated from total treadmill time and categorized into five categories of CRF (further defined as fitness category 1 = low fitness, 2-3 = moderate fitness, and 4-5 = high fitness). Logistic regression was used to characterize the association between CRF and BMD, adjusting for age, weight, and resistance activity level. Results: Overall, the mean body-mass index (BMI) for all subjects was 25.0 ± 4.5 kg/m2, although BMI was in the obese range in the low fitness group. The prevalence of osteoporosis (T-score ≤ -2.5 at the FN) was greater in the low fit group than moderate or high fit (5.8% vs. 3.0% or 3.9%, respectively); with a similar pattern seen for prevalence of osteopenia (T-score > -2.5 and ≤ -1.0 at the FN) (47.5% vs. 46.4% or 44.8%, respectively). Higher age and lower weight were associated with low BMD. Fully adjusted logistic regression models showed an inverse association between CRF and low BMD of the FN. For T-score ≤ -1.0, the primary outcome, the odds ratio (OR) was 0.50 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.32-0.79) for moderate fitness, and OR of 0.32 (95% CI 0.21-0.51) for high fitness was seen. For T-score ≤ -2.5 at the FN, OR was 0.30 (95% CI 0.11-0.80) for moderate fitness, and OR was 0.29 (95% CI 0.12-0.71) for high fitness. Conclusion: Increased CRF levels are associated with reduced risk for low bone density in postmenopausal women.
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