Effects of physical activity on bone remodeling

Metabolism. 2011 Mar;60(3):373-88. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2010.03.001. Epub 2010 Mar 31.


Physical exercise is recommended to improve bone mass in growing children and decrease bone loss in elderly men and women. However, the specific mechanisms by which exercise influences bone metabolism are still not thoroughly understood. The effect of physical activity on the skeleton is generally evaluated by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, which measures bone mineral density. However, a relatively long period is needed to detect even a minor variation in bone mineral density with this technique, limiting its usefulness. Bone biochemical markers that reflect the cellular activities of bone formation and resorption are thus also useful tools, both to monitor the acute effects of exercise on bone remodeling and to investigate the mechanisms of exercise-induced changes in bone mass. This article describes the effects of physical activity on bone remodeling in various types of population. The comparison of sedentary individuals and athletes with many years of high-volume sports practice, for example, has clarified some of the long-term effects of exercise. Moreover, the acute variation in bone cell activities after brief exercise or a training program is here examined. The interpretation of results is difficult, however, because of the many parameters, such as age, that are involved. The various populations are therefore categorized to reflect the biological factors implicated in the modulation of bone marker response during exercise.

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Bone Remodeling / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Sports