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Exercise to build strong bones

Running and jumping during childhood and exercising while young reduce the risk of fractures in later life, finds study.

health and fitness Updated: Dec 10, 2007 13:42 IST

Running and jumping during childhood are more than child's play - they provide lifelong benefits for future bone health. Researchers in the United States have carried out a study and found exercising while young lays down additional outside layers of bone and reduces the risk of fractures later in life, the

ScienceDaily

has reported.



"Our study demonstrates that exercise when young may reduce the risk of fractures later in life, and the old exercise adage of 'use it or lose it' may not be entirely applicable to the skeleton," lead researcher Prof Stuart J Warden was quoted as saying. Prof Warden and his fellow researchers at the Indiana University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences came to the conclusion after carrying out an experiment on rodents.



They exercised the right forearms of five-week-old female rats for a few minutes three times a week for seven weeks.



The left forearms were not exercised. Bone quantity and structure of the rats' right and left forearms were assessed before and after exercise. Researchers did not exercise the rodents for the next 92 weeks - virtually their entire lifespan. At that point, their forearm bones were assessed again for bone quantity and structure, as well as strength.



They found that the rats retained all of the skeletal exercise benefits they obtained while young even though they hadn't exercised for the rest of their lives.



"We found the exercise resulted in a lifetime increase in bone size in the right forearms of the rats and the bones of the left forearms never caught up in size. How big a bone determines how resistant it is to bending, or how strong it is," Prof Warden said.