Sustainability of exercise-induced increases in bone density and skeletal structure
Background: The prevalence of osteoporosis with related fragility fractures has increased during the last
decades. As physical activity influences the skeleton in a beneficial way, exercise may hypothetically be used as
a prophylactic tool against osteoporosis.
Objective: This review evaluates if exercise-induced skeletal benefits achieved during growth remain in a longterm
Design: Publications within the field were searched through Medline (PubMed) using the search words:
exercise, physical activity, bone mass, bone mineral content (BMC), bone mineral density (BMD) and skeletal
structure. We based our inferences on publications with the highest level of evidence, particularly randomised
controlled trials RCT.
Results: Benefits in BMD achieved by exercise during growth seem to be eroded at retirement, but benefits in
skeletal structure may possibly be retained in a longer perspective. Recreational exercise seems to at least
partially maintain exercise-induced skeletal benefits achieved during growth.
Conclusions: Exercise during growth may be followed by long-term beneficial skeletal effects, which could
possibly reduce the incidence of fractures. Exercise during adulthood seems to partly preserve these benefits
and reduce the age-related bone loss.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Authors retain copyright of their work, with first publication rights granted to SNF Swedish Nutrition Foundation.