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Regular Strength and Sprint Training Counteracts Bone Aging: A 10-Year Follow-Up in Male Masters Athletes

Suominen, TH and Alén, M and Törmäkangas, T and Degens, H and Rittweger, J and Heinonen, A and Suominen, H and Korhonen, MT (2021) Regular Strength and Sprint Training Counteracts Bone Aging: A 10-Year Follow-Up in Male Masters Athletes. JBMR Plus.

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Abstract

Cross-sectional and interventional studies suggest that high-intensity strength and impact-type training provide a powerful osteogenic stimulus even in old age. However, longitudinal evidence on the ability of high-intensity training to attenuate age-related bone deterioration is currently lacking. This follow-up study assessed the role of continued strength and sprint training on bone aging in 40- to 85-year-old male sprinters (n = 69) with a long-term training background. Peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT)-derived bone structural, strength, and densitometric parameters of the distal tibia and tibia midshaft were assessed at baseline and 10 years later. The groups of well-trained (actively competing, sprint training including strength training ≥2 times/week; n = 36) and less-trained (<2 times/week, no strength training, switched to endurance training; n = 33) athletes were formed according to self-reports at follow-up. Longitudinal changes in bone traits in the two groups were examined using linear mixed models. Over the 10-year period, group-by-time interactions were found for distal tibia total bone mineral content (BMC), trabecular volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD), and compressive strength index, and for mid-tibia cortical cross-sectional area, medullary area, total BMC, and BMC at the anterior and posterior sites (polar mass distribution analysis) (p < 0.05). These interactions reflected maintained (distal tibia) or improved (mid-tibia) bone properties in the well-trained and decreased bone properties in the less-trained athletes over the 10-year period. Depending on the bone variable, the difference in change in favor of the well-trained group ranged from 2% to 5%. The greatest differences were found in distal tibia trabecular vBMD and mid-tibia posterior BMC, which remained significant (p < 0.05) after adjustment for multiple testing. In conclusion, our longitudinal findings indicate that continued strength and sprint training is associated with maintained or even improved tibial properties in middle-aged and older male sprint athletes, suggesting that regular, intensive exercise counteracts bone aging. © 2021 The Authors. JBMR Plus published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.

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