High-load exercise may benefit long-term bone health

Compared with nonweight-bearing activities, such as cycling, running and other exercises that put greater strain on bones may help improve long-term bone health, according to study findings presented at the European Congress of Endocrinology in Munich.

“Chronic large and repetitive loads — as in mountain ultramarathon, but also in running — modify bone metabolism by enhancing formation,” Giovanni Lombardi, PhD, a researcher at the Istituto Ortopedico Galeazzi in Milan, Italy, told Endocrine Today. “This is associated with an improvement of the global metabolic status and insulin sensitivity. It could be that the improvement in bone metabolism provides its contribution to improvement of the global metabolic status.”

Lombardi and colleagues compared serum concentrations of bone turnover markers measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and metabolic hormones measured by fluorescent-based multiplex assay in 17 trained runners before and after a 65-km mountain ultramarathon and in 12 age-matched controls who participated in low to moderate physical exercise, but did not take part in the race.

Bone turnover markers included procollagen type 1 N-terminal propeptide (P1NP) and carboxylated/undercarboxylated osteocalcin, and metabolic hormones included C-peptide, insulin, glucagon, glucagon-like peptide-1, gastric-inhibitory peptide, ghrelin, leptin, resistin and visfatin.

P1NP levels decreased in the runners after the race (P < .05), but the levels were higher in controls (P < .05). There were no changes in carboxylated osteocalcin levels.

Runners had decreased levels of C-peptide and leptin after the race, whereas glucagon, GLP-1, resistin and visfatin increased (P < .01). Undercarboxylated osteocalcin decreased by 50% (P < .05) and was highly linked to insulin and C-peptide (P < .01).

“Bone and energy metabolism are closely related and uncarboxylated osteocalcin in clearly involved in this interaction — even if we still don’t know whether directly or indirectly,” Lombardi said. “To get a final message we need to contextualize the current results with those we previously obtained in cyclists, comparable energy expenditure but in absence of load. By comparing the contrary behavior of uncarboxylated osteocalcin we can hypothesize that the load-dependent changes in bone metabolism have a role in regulating the energy metabolism.” – by Amber Cox


Lombardi G, et al. Abstract OC10.3. Presented at: European Congress of Endocrinology; May 28-31, 2016; Munich.

Disclosure: Lombardi reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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