Osteoporosis currently affects approximately 200 million people worldwide and has long been regarded as a serious medical condition for older consumers. The disease occurs when the living tissue that makes up bones is broken down more quickly than it can be replaced, resulting in weak and brittle bones that can be fractured by a fall or other mild stresses.
Currently, treatments for osteoporosis are assessed by determining the likelihood of a bone fracture in the next 10 years and can include hormone-related therapy, taking medication, or modifying lifestyle to reduce bone loss and falls.
However, researchers from the University of Missouri-Columbia state that men who are at high risk of osteoporosis can also hit the gym to stave off the condition. In a recent study, they found that weight-bearing exercises decreased a harmful protein made in bones and increased a hormone associated with bone growth.
"People may be physically active, and many times people know they need to exercise to prevent obesity, heart disease or diabetes. However, you also really need to do specific exercises to protect your bone health," said researcher Pamela Hinton.
Reducing osteoporosis risk
The study used two groups of men between the ages of 25 and 60 who were shown to have low bone mass. Both groups were asked to perform exercises over a 12-month period to see what affect they had on bone proteins and hormones in the blood.
One group was asked to take part in resistance training exercises, which included lunges and squats using free weights, while the other group was asked to perform jumping exercises, including single-leg and double-leg jumps.
After the study period, Hinton and her colleagues found that both types of exercise reduced sclerostin proteins in participants’ bones and increased IGF-1 hormones in the blood.
Hinton explains that these outcomes bode well for weight-bearing exercise as a preventative measure to osteoporosis. “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," she said.