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Abstract

To quantify cortical bone response to weight-bearing exercise, bone size, mineral content, and formation were measured at the femoral midshaft in swine. Bone formation was measured histomorphometrically on the periosteal, endosteal, and osteonal surfaces. Sedentary adult crossbred sows (3 years, 229 kg) were randomly assigned to basal (B, n = 6), control (C, n = 7), or trained (T, n = 7) groups. The basal and control groups did not exercise and were killed initially (B) or after 20 weeks (C). The trained group walked on a treadmill 20 minutes/day at 5 km/h and 5% grade, 5 days/week for 20 weeks. Bone length, area, or fat-free dry weight was not different with time (B versus C) or with training (C versus T). Periosteal modeling was stimulated by walking. Periosteal formation surface and mineral apposition rate (MAR) were greater in trained than control femora. No effects of walking were measured on the endosteal surface. Intracortical remodeling was not affected by walking. The number of labeled osteons (22.4 cm−2) was not different among groups, but osteonal MAR was greater in trained (1.18 μm/day) than control (0.96 μ/day) femora. Walking for 20 weeks in the previously sedentary sows was not a sufficient stimulus to create differences in gross measures of bone size or mineral content but did increase periosteal and intracortical MAR. The primary effect of increased exercise appeared to be osteoblast activation.