The influence of high impact exercise on cortical and trabecular bone mineral content and 3D distribution across the proximal femur in older men: a randomised controlled unilateral intervention

Regular exercisers have lower fracture risk, despite modest effects of exercise on BMC. Exercise may produce localised cortical and trabecular bone changes that affect bone strength independently of BMC. We previously demonstrated that brief, daily unilateral hopping exercises increased femoral neck BMC in the exercise leg versus the control leg of older men. This study evaluated the effects of these exercises on cortical and trabecular bone and its 3D distribution across the proximal femur, using clinical computed tomography (CT). Fifty healthy men had pelvic CT scans before and after the exercise intervention. We used hip QCT analysis to quantify BMC in traditional regions of interest and estimate biomechanical variables. Cortical bone mapping localised cortical mass surface density and endocortical trabecular density changes across each proximal femur, which involved registration to a canonical proximal femur model. Following statistical parametric mapping, we visualised and quantified statistically significant changes of variables over time in both legs, and significant differences between legs. Thirty-four men aged 70 (4) years exercised for 12-months, attending 92% of prescribed sessions. In traditional ROIs, cortical and trabecular BMC increased over time in both legs. Cortical BMC at the trochanter increased more in the exercise than control leg, whilst femoral neck buckling ratio declined more in the exercise than control leg. Across the entire proximal femur, cortical mass surface density increased significantly with exercise (2.7%; P < 0.001), with larger changes (>6%) at anterior and posterior aspects of the femoral neck and anterior shaft. Endocortical trabecular density also increased (6.4%; P < 0.001), with localised changes of >12% at the anterior femoral neck, trochanter and inferior femoral head. Odd impact exercise increased cortical mass surface density and endocortical trabecular density, at regions that may be important to structural integrity. These exercise-induced changes were localised rather than being evenly distributed across the proximal femur. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.