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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Dec;34(12):1958-65.

Age does not influence the bone response to treadmill exercise in female rats.

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  • 1Centre for Sports Medicine Research and Education, School of Physiotherapy, University of Melbourne, 200 Berkeley St., Carlton, 3052, Victoria, Australia.



Because it is believed that bone may respond to exercise differently at different ages, we compared bone responses in immature and mature rats after 12 wk of treadmill running.


Twenty-two immature (5-wk-old) and 21 mature (17-wk-old) female Sprague Dawley rats were randomized into a running (trained, P = 10 immature, 9 mature) or a control group (controls, P = 12 immature, 12 mature) before sacrifice 12 wk later. Rats ran on a treadmill five times per week for 60-70 min at speeds up to 26 m.min. Both at baseline and after intervention, we measured total body, lumbar spine, and proximal femoral bone mineral, as well as total body soft tissue composition using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). After sacrificing the animals, we measured dynamic and static histomorphometry and three-point bending strength of the tibia.


Running training was associated with greater differences in tibial subperiosteal area, cortical cross-sectional area, peak load, stiffness, and moment of inertia in immature and mature rats (P < 0.05). The trained rats had greater periosteal bone formation rates (P < 0.01) than controls, but there was no difference in tibial trabecular bone histomorphometry. Similar running-related gains were seen in DXA lumbar spine area (P = 0.04) and bone mineral content (BMC; P = 0.03) at both ages. For total body bone area and BMC, the immature trained group increased significantly compared with controls (P < 0.05), whereas the mature trained group gained less than did controls (P < 0.01).


In this model, where a similar physical training program was performed by immature and mature female rats, we demonstrated that both age groups were sensitive to loading and that bone strength gains appeared to result more from changes in bone geometry than from improved material properties.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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