How Physical Activity across the Lifespan Can Reduce the Impact of Bone Ageing: A Literature Review

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Mar 13;17(6):1862. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17061862.


Bone remodeling is a lifelong process, due to the balanced activity of the osteoblasts (OBs), the bone-forming cells, and osteoclasts (OCs), the bone-resorbing cells. This equilibrium is mainly regulated by the WNT-ß-cathenin pathway and the RANK-RANKL/OPG system, respectively. Bone ageing is a process which normally occurs during life due to the imbalance between bone formation and bone resorption, potentially leading to osteoporosis. Bone loss associated with bone ageing is determined by oxidative stress, the result of the increasing production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The promotion of physical exercise during growth increases the chances of accruing bone and delaying the onset of osteoporosis. Several studies demonstrate that physical exercise is associated with higher bone mineral density and lower fracture incidence, and the resulting bone mineral gain is maintained with ageing, despite a reduction of physical activity in adulthood. The benefits of exercise are widely recognized, thus physical activity is considered the best non-pharmacologic treatment for pathologies such as osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. We reviewed the physiological mechanisms which control bone remodeling, the effects of physical activity on bone health, and studies on the impact of exercise in reducing bone ageing.

Keywords: ageing; bone health; childhood; physical activity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Bone Resorption*
  • Bone and Bones* / physiology
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Longevity*
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoblasts
  • Osteoclasts
  • RANK Ligand


  • RANK Ligand