University of Michigan researchers found that nutrition has a greater impact on bone mass and strength than exercise.
Looking at mineral supplementation and exercise in mice, researchers found that even after the exercise training stopped, the mice retained bone strength gains as long as they ate a mineral-supplemented diet.
"The longer-term mineral-supplemented diet leads to not only increases in bone mass and strength, but the ability to maintain those increases even after detraining," said David Kohn, a U-M professor in the schools of dentistry and engineering. "This was done in mice, but if you think about the progression to humans, diet is easier for someone to carry on as they get older and stop exercising, rather than the continuation of exercise itself."
Researchers also found that the diet alone has beneficial effects on bone, even without exercising. This surprised Kohn, who expected exercise with a normal diet to fuel greater gains in bone strength.
"The data suggests the long-term consumption of the mineral-supplemented diet could be beneficial in preventing the loss of bone and strength with age, even if you don't do exercise training," he said.
Although researchers say the findings don't translate directly from ice to humans, they do give researchers a conceptual place to start.
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