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Weight-bearing exercise promotes bone formation

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A new study in the US shows that performing weight-bearing exercises over the long term increases bone mass in men and helps prevent osteoporosis.

Researchers at the University of Missouri found that 12 months of resistance training or jump training decreased sclerostin, a protein made in the bone, and increased IGF-1, a hormone associated with bone growth. These changes promote bone formation, increasing bone density.

The study involved men aged 25 to 60 who had low bone mass. One group performed resistance training exercises such as lunges and squats using free weights. The other group performed various types of jumps, such as single-leg and double-leg jumps. After 12 months, the researchers compared the levels of bone proteins and hormones in the blood.

“We saw a decrease in the level of sclerostin in both of these exercise interventions in men,” said Dr Pamela Hinton, associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. “When sclerostin is expressed at high levels, it has a negative impact on bone formation. In both resistance and jump training, the level of sclerostin in the bone goes down, which triggers bone formation.”

The results also showed an increase in the hormone IGF-1, which triggers bone growth.

“People may be physically active, and many times people know they need to exercise to prevent obesity, heart disease or diabetes,” Dr Hinton said. “However, you also really need to do specific exercises to protect your bone health.”

The findings have been published in the journal Bone.