Exercise for Life-long Bone Health

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High-impact, weight-bearing exercise during childhood to young adulthood has been shown to increase peak bone mass and may have long-lasting benefits on bone health in later life. After menopause, decreasing estrogen concentrations leads to a decline in bone strength due to the reduction of the bone mineral density. The risk of osteoporotic fractures increase, and weight-bearing activity is thought to be beneficial for reducing the fracture risk. A major strategy to prevent osteoporosis is peak bone mass development during childhood to young adulthood. In animal studies, not all exercises are equally effective at eliciting an osteogenic response, weight-bearing intermittent dynamic activities which impart high-level strain at a high rate on bones, appear to be the most effective. Another animal study reported that exercise when young may provide lifelong benefits regarding bone structure and strength, and consequently reduce the fracture risk. Weight-bearing exercise in youth affects bone, and the periods before and in early puberty may see sensitive adaptations in structure, shape and size in response to weight-bearing activities. These effects enlarge periosteal surfaces on cortical bone, and the benefits of sports activity during childhood remain, particularly in terms of bone geometry. Adolescent weight-bearing exercise exerts preservational effects on femoral mid-diaphyseal size and shape, while DXA-measured BMC effectively identified the same tendency. Weight-bearing exercise in youth affects bone, and that these effects may be preserved as BMC, geometric and structural advantages even after 40 years. In middle-aged postmenopausal women, DXA measured bone strength parameters may have a possibility to underestimate the effects of physical exercise. On the contrary, bone size and geometry as indicators of bone strength may respond more sensitively in order to meet the increased functional demands associated with physical exercises.


  • Advances in exercise and sports physiology

    Advances in exercise and sports physiology 17(4), 99-103, 2012-02

    Japan Society of Exercise and Sports Physiology


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