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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 Sep;112(9):3179-86. doi: 10.1007/s00421-011-2303-7. Epub 2012 Jan 5.

Physical activity benefits bone density and bone-related hormones in adult men with cervical spinal cord injury.

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Núcleo de Estudos em Nutrição e Fatores de Estresse, Instituto de Nutrição, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Rua São Francisco Xavier, 524-12º andar, Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 20550-900, Brazil.


Severe bone loss is a recognized complication of chronic spinal cord injury (SCI). Physical exercise contributes to bone health; however, its influence on bone mass of cervical SCI individuals has not been investigated. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of physical activity on bone mass, bone metabolism, and vitamin D status in quadriplegics. Total, lumbar spine (L1-L4), femur and radius bone mineral density (BMD) were assessed in active (n = 15) and sedentary (n = 10) quadriplegic men by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. Concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], PTH, IGF1, osteocalcin and NTx were measured in serum. After adjustments for duration of injury, total body mass, and habitual calcium intake, bone indices were similar between groups, except for L1-L4 BMD Z score that was higher in the sedentary group (P < 0.05). Hours of physical exercise per week correlated positively with 25(OH)D (r = 0.59; P < 0.05) and negatively with PTH (r = -0.50; P < 0.05). Femur BMD was negatively associated with the number of months elapsed between the injury and the onset of physical activity (r = -0.60; P < 0.05). Moreover, in the active subjects, both L1-L4 BMD Z score (r = 0.72; P < 0.01) and radius BMD (r = 0.59; P < 0.05) were positively associated with calcium intake. In this cross-sectional study, both the onset of physical activity after injury and the number of hours dedicated to exercise were able to influence bone density and bone-related hormones in quadriplegic men. Our results also suggest a positive combined effect of exercise and calcium intake on bone health of quadriplegic individuals.

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