Exercise and Bone Health

  • Maria A. Fiatarone Singh
Part of the Nutrition and Health book series (NH)


Bone mass begins to decrease well before the menopause in women (as early as the 20s in the femur of sedentary women), and accelerates in the perimenopausal years, with continued declines into late old age (1). Similar patterns are seen in men, without the acceleration related to loss of ovarian function seen in women (2). As with losses of muscle tissue [sarcopenia (3)], many genetic, lifestyle, nutritional, and disease and medication-related factors enter into the prediction of bone density at a given age (4–12). A wealth of animal and human data provide evidence for a relationship between physical activity and bone health at all ages. Mechanical loading of the skeleton generally leads to favorable site-specific changes in bone density, morphology, or strength (13–18), whereas unloading (in the form of bed rest, immobilization, casting, spinal cord injury, or space travel) produces rapid and sometimes dramatic resorption of bone, increased biochemical markers of bone turnover, changes in morphology such as increased osteoclast surfaces, and increased susceptibility to fracture (11,19–22). Among these models, spinal cord injury results in the most profound loss of skeletal mass (up to 45% at the pelvis), limited to the weight-bearing bones of the lower extremities and lumbar spine (22).


Physical Activity Bone Mineral Density Postmenopausal Woman Bone Mass Bone Density 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria A. Fiatarone Singh

There are no affiliations available

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