Increased exercise leads to stronger bones in just weeks, study shows

Increased exercise leads to stronger bones in just weeks, study shows
Players were 16 and from footballing academies across the UK. Credit: Nottingham Trent University

Bones adapt to increasing volumes of exercise, becoming larger and stronger in a very short period of time, a study led by Nottingham Trent University sports scientists suggests.

The response is the bone's way of adjusting to the increased amount of that is taking place, the researchers believe

The study, published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, looked at almost 100 elite adolescent footballers moving from part-time to full-time training for the first time.

Players, who were all aged 16 and from academies across the UK, trained for about 12 hours per week – almost double what they were used to. Training consisted of high-intensity running drills, small-sided games and technique-based work.

Bone characteristics of players' dominant legs were measured prior to them beginning training – and then again 12 weeks later.

Scans showed that tibia, or shinbone, density – which is associated with – and other bone characteristics increased significantly post-training.

The researchers suggest the change may be due to increasing , which increases bone .

Playing football has been associated with improving bone health in the past, although the specific volume of playing required was unclear.

It is hoped the findings could pave the way to future work looking at the implications for prescribing to individuals for bone health purposes, or in relation to exercise for osteoporosis treatment and prevention.

"Even when bone is accustomed to football participation we can increase its size and strength in just a short period of time when the volume of training is increased," said lead researcher Ian Varley, a sports scientist in Nottingham Trent University's School of Science and Technology.

He said: "In the past, factors such as rapid increases in training volume have been implicated negatively in terms of . We have shown, however, that in the majority of individuals the bone appears to adapt positively as a result of this unaccustomed increase.

"The adaptive responses we witnessed may have been enhanced by the fact these players were adolescents, supporting the argument for exercise interventions to improve strength in young people."

Explore further

Weight-bearing exercises promote bone formation in men

More information: Ian Varley et al. Increased Training Volume Improves Bone Density and Cortical Area in Adolescent Football Players, International Journal of Sports Medicine (2017). DOI: 10.1055/s-0042-124510
Citation: Increased exercise leads to stronger bones in just weeks, study shows (2017, April 13) retrieved 21 September 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Apr 13, 2017
Can test to that personally. Bought a ranch. 80 acres! Am 71 and fit, or so I thought. Working on my place has made me ......... more fit. Can noticeably do better knee bends.... looking under workbench shelves for black widow spiders. Better push ups..... getting up from flat on shop floor working on my tractor. And can run a lot better too....... try catching a 'fugitive chicken bent on exploring before it drowns itself in our creek. Mailbox is 500 feet away so nice daily walk, not that the other, two mile walk around the fenceline and up and down out mountain helps too. Slipped and fell on front slab a while back and got right up and walked away with no ill effects. When late wife was 71, she fell and broke her leg in two places and her arm and a couple ribs from falling on loose mud. Course she was a 58 year smoker and recovered drinker who ate like a bird and stayed in bed or in a chair. Smoking and sedentaryness causes osteoporosis, COPD, atherosclerosis = death

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more