Osteoporosis is a major public health concern, and as reported by the National Osteoporosis Foundation, in excess of 200 million people around the world are affected by osteoporosis. It’s a known fact that exercise helps to prevent diabetes, heart disease and obesity, and nowadays many more people are physically active. But specific exercises are needed for protecting the health of the bones. Research has found that long-term, weight-bearing exercise decreases sclerostin and increases IGF-1. Sclerostin is a protein produced by bone cells which has a negative impact on the formation of bone when expressed at high levels by decreasing bone formation, and IGF-1 is a hormone associated with the growth of bone. Both these changes increase bone density by promoting bone formation.
In a study, researchers recruited men with low-bone mass aged of 25 to 60 who were separated into 2 groups. Resistance training exercises like squats and lunges making use of free weights were performed by the one group. A variety of jumps, like double-leg and single-leg jumps were performed by the other group. Bone protein levels and blood hormone levels were then compared after 12 months of the exercises.
Sclerostin levels were decreased in both of the exercise interventions. Bone formation is activated when sclerostin levels in the bone decreases. An increase in the IGF-1 hormone was also observed. Contrary to sclerostin, increases in IGF-1 levels trigger bone growth. The decrease of the harmful levels of sclerostin and the increase in beneficial levels of IGF-1 confirmed earlier research which revealed that both jump training and resistance training are of benefit to the growth of bone.
For increasing bone mass and preventing osteoporosis, it’s recommended to target bone health with specific exercises. Although exercises like cycling and swimming benefit overall health, the skeleton is not strengthened with these activities. Exercises like jump training and resistance training are also recommended for improving the health of the bones.