The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently awarded a grant to Karen Troy, PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Applied Health Sciences, to fund research designed to pinpoint what types of exercise may assist in increasing bone strength. Troy notes that prior studies in animals have shown changes in bone structure following the application of well-defined forces.
Troy acknowledges that while the principles from animal studies seem to carry over, researchers are not yet certain how they can be implemented. “The long-term goal is understanding how we can use physical-activity interventions to improve bone health, prevent fractures, and prevent or treat osteoporosis.”
A UIC news release notes that Troy and her team will recruit female participants who will apply forces to the radius by pressing the palm of the hand onto an apparatus designed to measure the force and speed of the pressure. The team will use two studies to test how bone adapts to different forces. In the first study, one group of participants will apply light pressure and another group will be asked to apply heavier pressure in order to determine if there is a dose response in bone changes. In the second study, researchers note that participants will be tasked with applying pressure at high or low rates three times a week for 12 months.
Troy notes that the team hopes the results will reveal, “how many times I would have to exercise to get this much bone growth, on average, in a particular person over a particular time period,” Troy says. The ultimate goal, she adds, is to design a personalized physical activity intervention specifically targeting bone health.