Exercise and bone health across the lifespan

Biogerontology. 2017 Dec;18(6):931-946. doi: 10.1007/s10522-017-9732-6. Epub 2017 Oct 20.


With ageing, bone tissue undergoes significant compositional, architectural and metabolic alterations potentially leading to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is the most prevalent bone disorder, which is characterised by progressive bone weakening and an increased risk of fragility fractures. Although this metabolic disease is conventionally associated with ageing and menopause, the predisposing factors are thought to be established during childhood and adolescence. In light of this, exercise interventions implemented during maturation are likely to be highly beneficial as part of a long-term strategy to maximise peak bone mass and hence delay the onset of age- or menopause-related osteoporosis. This notion is supported by data on exercise interventions implemented during childhood and adolescence, which confirmed that weight-bearing activity, particularly if undertaken during peripubertal development, is capable of generating a significant osteogenic response leading to bone anabolism. Recent work on human ageing and epigenetics suggests that undertaking exercise after the fourth decade of life is still important, given the anti-ageing effect and health benefits provided, potentially occurring via a delay in telomere shortening and modification of DNA methylation patterns associated with ageing. Exercise is among the primary modifiable factors capable of influencing bone health by preserving bone mass and strength, preventing the death of bone cells and anti-ageing action provided.

Keywords: Bone adaptation; Bone ageing; Bone health; Exercise; Lifespan; Osteoporosis.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Bone Remodeling
  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy*
  • Osteoporosis / physiopathology