The Varied Effects of Exercise and Bone Health


Clients often turn to chiropractors for relief from many different musculoskeletal problems. When the body does not receive adequate amounts of exercise or have a healthy level of fitness, aches and pains develop when people try accomplishing even the most basic of physical tasks. On the other hand, extreme activity may push the body beyond its capacity and injury may occur. Recent medical research reveals some interesting correlations between physical activity and bone health.

Physical Activity and Osteoporosis

Scientists performing studies at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, discovered that being active during youth produces benefits that last well into the years of retirement. These benefits include increased bone density and size, which may reduce the likelihood of suffering from osteoporosis. The researchers set out to determine the effect of exercise and bone tissue by studying more than 3,000 volunteer male subjects. Initially, the physicians selected young men who were 18 years of age.

The physicians evaluated the bones of each of the subjects, and particularly the lower legs, as this region of the body endures the majority of stress during many different activities. From this group of men, the researchers discovered that the volunteers who regularly engaged in sports displayed a greater bone density compared with the young men who were not physically active. Next, the group surveyed approximately young men who were 19 years of age who professed to being athletically active in younger years, but were presently leading a more sedentary lifestyle. When examining the bone structure of the lower legs and feet of these individuals, physicians determined that the bones remained larger and denser compared to inactive subjects.

Finally, the researchers examined the bones of men who averaged 75 years of age. The men who formerly participated in sporting events multiple times during the week when they were 30 years of age or younger, demonstrated higher levels of bone density overall. The studies also indicated that participating in weight bearing activities produced the most impressive effects. The scientists concluded that there is a strong connection between having a healthier skeleton in later years when physically active during youth.

Low-impact Activities and Bone Damage

While impact exercise enhances bone tissue, low-impact activity has the opposite effect. Researchers know that bone density levels are generally established from childhood into young adulthood. Weight bearing or loading activities have the greatest positive effect on bone size and strength. Loading sporting events may include aerobic exercise, dancing, jumping, running, skiing and walking.

However, while low-impact exercise may improve overall cardiovascular function, the activity does little to promote bone health. Furthermore, when these activities are combined with low-caloric intake implemented as a means of weight control, bone damage occurs. Scientists from the Wake Forest University studied the bone density levels of many different athletes who participated in a variety of sporting events. They found that cyclists and swimmers had the lowest bone density levels of all of the athletes. The physicians shared that the lack of bone structure in the subjects put the individuals at a greater risk of suffering fractures or developing osteoporosis in later life.

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