Why exercise improves bone health?

Specific exercises such as resistance training and jump training can improve bone health, according to a study published in the journal Bone. The study is carried out by researchers including Pamela Hinton, Peggy Nigh, and John Thyfault from the University of Missouri.

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and density that may lead to bone fracture. There are a variety of risk factors for the disease, such as female gender, Caucasian or Asian race, cigarette smoking, lack of exercise, and diet low in calcium. It's estimated that over 200 million people have osteoporosis in the world, making it an important public health issue.

Benefits of exercise are well-established. People who are physically active are significantly less likely to develop obesity, diabetes, heart disease and many other diseases, in comparison to those who are inactive. Certain types of exercise such as swimming and cycling are good at improving overall health but almost have no effect on the skeleton. You need to take specific exercise to maintain the health of your bones.

This study enrolled men with osteopenia of the hip or spine. Some of them took part in resistance training such as lunges and squats; others performed jumping training. Hinton and colleagues examined the concentrations of bone proteins and hormones in their blood before the training and after one year of training. Results showed that sclerostin concentrations in the blood significantly decreased and IGF-I significantly increased in both groups after one year.

Sclerostin is a protein produced by osteocytes and it inhibits bone formation by osteoblasts. IGF-I, or called Insulin-like growth factor 1, is a hormone that helps promote normal bone and tissue growth and development. So the decrease in sclerostin and the increase in IGF-I could enhance bone formation.

In summary, the study supports that resistance training and jumping training are beneficial to bone health, providing a potential way to prevent osteoporosis.
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