Muscle training for bone strength

Aging Clin Exp Res. 2006 Apr;18(2):85-93. doi: 10.1007/BF03327422.


The main function of bone is to provide the mechanical integrity for locomotion and protection; accordingly, bone mass and architecture are adjusted to control the strains produced by mechanical load and muscular activity. Age-related patterns involve peak bone mass during growth, a plateau in adulthood, and bone loss during aging. The decline in bone mass and structural integrity results in increased risk of fractures, particularly in post-menopausal women. Athletes competing in strength and power events, such as weight-lifting and jumping, have superior bone mass and structure compared with their untrained counterparts in all age groups. Exercise seems to be most effective during rapid growth, the average gain in bone mineral content (BMC) and density (BMD) in controlled trials being of the order of 2-5% per year. The net gain of BMD after exercise interventions among older people is modest, at a level of 1-3% per year, but it is not clear whether positive effects can be maintained over a longer time. Although aerobic exercise is important in maintaining overall health, the resistance type of muscle training may be more applicable to the basic rules of bone adaptation and site-specific effects of exercise, have more favorable effects in maintaining or improving bone mass and architecture, and be safe and feasible for older people. It has been suggested that there is an opportunity for resistance training, for improved effects on BMD in postmenopausal women in bones which have less daily loading. In addition to BMC and BMD, bone geometry and mass distribution may also change as a result of training and other treatment, such as hormonal replacement therapy, thereby further improving bone strength and reducing fracture risk. Appropriate training regimens may reduce the risk of falls and the severity of fall-related injuries, and also constitute potential therapy to improve functional ability and the quality of life in osteoporotic patients. However, further research is needed on dose-response relationships between exercise and bone strength, the feasibility of high-load, high-speed and impact-type of physical training, and the risks and benefits of intensive exercisein elderly individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Osteoporosis / physiopathology
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Lifting / physiology
  • Weight-Bearing