The Influence of Muscular Action on Bone Strength Via Exercise

  • Alex IrelandEmail author
  • Jörn Rittweger
  • Hans Degens
Original Paper


Mechanical stimuli influence bone strength, with internal muscular forces thought to be the greatest stressors of bone. Consequently, the effects of exercise in improving and maintaining bone strength have been explored in a number of interventional studies. These studies demonstrate a positive effect of high-impact activities (i.e. where large muscle forces are produced) on bone strength, with benefits being most pronounced in interventions in early pubertal children. However, current studies have not investigated the forces acting on bones and subsequent deformation, preventing the development of optimised and targeted exercise interventions. Similarly, the effects of number and frequency of exercise repetitions and training sessions on bone accrual are unexplored. There are conflicting results as to gender effects on bone response to exercise, and the effects of age and starting age on the osteogenic effects of exercise are not well known. It also appears that exercise interventions are most effective in physically inactive people or counteracting conditions of disuse such as bed rest. Bone strength is only one component of fracture risk, and it may be that exercise resulting in improvements in, e.g., muscle force/power and/or balance is more effective than those whose effects are solely osteogenic. In summary, exercise is likely to be an effective tool in maintaining bone strength but current interventions are far from optimal.


Bone BMD Muscle Exercise Osteoporosis 



Conflict of interest

Alex Ireland, Jörn Rittweger and Hans Degens declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Animal/Human studies

This review does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cognitive Motor Function Research GroupManchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK
  2. 2.German Aerospace CentreInstitute of Aerospace MedicineCologneGermany

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