Increasing peak bone mass at skeletal maturity, minimizing bone loss during middle age and after menopause, and increasing bone mass and preventing falls in advanced age are important measures for preventing osteoporotic fractures in women. Exercise has generally been considered to have a positive influence on bone health. This paper reviews the effects of treadmill exercise on bone in young, adult, ovariectomized, and osteopenic female rats. Treadmill exercise increases cortical and cancellous bone mass of the tibia as a result of increased bone formation and decreased bone resorption in young and adult rats. The increase in lumbar bone mass seems to be more significant when long-term exercise is applied. Treadmill exercise prevents cancellous bone loss at the tibia as a result of suppressed bone resorption in ovariectomized rats, and increases bone mass of the tibia and mechanical strength of the femur, as a result of suppressed bone resorption and increased bone formation in osteopenic rats after ovariectomy. Treadmill exercise transiently decreases the serum calcium level as a result of accumulation of calcium in bone, resulting in an increase in serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 level and a decrease in serum parathyroid hormone level. We conclude that treadmill exercise may be useful to increase bone mass in young and adult rats, prevent bone loss in ovariectomized rats, and increase bone mass and bone strength in osteopenic rats, especially in the long bones at weight-bearing sites. Treadmill exercise may have a positive effect on the skeleton in young, and adult, ovariectomized, and osteopenic female rats.
2005 Japanese Association for Laboratory Animal Science