Maintenance of neuromuscular function into old age is critical to maintain normal daily activity and functional independence. Maximal muscle strength declines with age, and the age-related loss in power might be even greater. An accelerated loss of muscle strength and power has been observed in women around the time of the menopause. The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of tibolone, a synthetic steroid with oestrogenic, progestogenic and androgenic activities, on muscle power, endurance and functional ability. A total of 85 healthy women, between 1 and 15 years postmenopausal, were recuited from local paper advertisements. Participants were randomly assigned to 2.5mg of tibolone or to placebo pills of identical appearance; pills were taken daily for 12 months, orally in the morning. Muscle power was assessed as explosive leg extensor power. Endurance was measured on a 2min walk test and a 3.5m walk. Functional ability was determined with the timed Get Up and Go test and a Postural/Locomotor/Manual test. No significant between-group differences were observed for any of the parameters. Possible explanations for this lack of effect are either the absence of an effect of tibolone on muscle power and functional ability, or that our participants were too far above their strength-related functional limits to derive benefit from intervention. Further research is required to resolve this issue.

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