Calcium- and Phosphorus-Supplemented Diet Increases Bone Mass after Short-Term Exercise and Increases Bone Mass and Structural Strength after Long-Term Exercise in Adult Mice

PLoS One. 2016 Mar 23;11(3):e0151995. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151995. eCollection 2016.


Exercise has long-lasting benefits to bone health that may help prevent fractures by increasing bone mass, bone strength, and tissue quality. Long-term exercise of 6-12 weeks in rodents increases bone mass and bone strength. However, in growing mice, a short-term exercise program of 3 weeks can limit increases in bone mass and structural strength, compared to non-exercised controls. Short-term exercise can, however, increase tissue strength, suggesting that exercise may create competition for minerals that favors initially improving tissue-level properties over structural-level properties. It was therefore hypothesized that adding calcium and phosphorus supplements to the diet may prevent decreases in bone mass and structural strength during a short-term exercise program, while leading to greater bone mass and structural strength than exercise alone after a long-term exercise program. A short-term exercise experiment was done for 3 weeks, and a long-term exercise experiment was done for 8 weeks. For each experiment, male 16-week old C57BL/6 mice were assigned to 4 weight-matched groups-exercise and non-exercise groups fed a control or mineral-supplemented diet. Exercise consisted of treadmill running at 12 m/min, 30 min/day for 7 days/week. After 3 weeks, exercised mice fed the supplemented diet had significantly increased tibial tissue mineral content (TMC) and cross-sectional area over exercised mice fed the control diet. After 8 weeks, tibial TMC, cross-sectional area, yield force, and ultimate force were greater from the combined treatments than from either exercise or supplemented diet alone. Serum markers of bone formation (PINP) and resorption (CTX) were both decreased by exercise on day 2. In exercised mice, day 2 PINP was significantly positively correlated with day 2 serum Ca, a correlation that was weaker and negative in non-exercised mice. Increasing dietary mineral consumption during an exercise program increases bone mass after 3 weeks and increases structural strength after 8 weeks, making bones best able to resist fracture.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects
  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Calcium / blood
  • Calcium / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Phosphorus / blood
  • Phosphorus / pharmacology*
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal*


  • Phosphorus
  • Calcium