• climbing;
  • voluntary exercise;
  • bone formation;
  • ovariectomized;
  • cortical drift


To determine both the preventive and recovery effects of tower climbing exercise on mass, strength, and local turnover of bone in ovariectomized (OVX) rats, we carried out two experiments. In experiment I, 60 Sprague-Dawley rats, 12 months of age, were assigned to four groups: a Baseline Control, Sham-Operated Sedentary, OVX-Sedentary and OVX-Exercise rats. Rats voluntarily climbed a 200-cm tower to drink water from a bottle set at the top. At 3 months, OVX elevated both the femoral cortex and lumbar trabecular turnover, leading to a reduction in bone mass and strength. However, in OVX-Exercise rats, those values were maintained at the same level as in the Sham-Sedentary rats. Thus, the climbing exercise, started after 3 days of OVX, prevented OVX-induced cortical and trabecular bone loss by depressing turnover elevation. After confirming the preventive effect, we evaluated the recovery effect of exercise. In experiment II, 90 Sprague-Dawley rats, 12 months of age, were assigned to six groups: a Baseline control, two groups of Sham-Operated Sedentary and OVX-Sedentary, and OVX-Exercise rats. The exercise started 3 months after the OVX operation. At 3 months, OVX increased the trabecular bone formation rate and osteoclast surface, leading to a decrease in compressive strength. In the midfemur, the cross-sectional area, moment of inertia, and bending load values decreased. At 6 months, in the OVX-Exercise rats, the parameters of breaking load in both the lumbar and midfemur, lumbar bone mass, and the total cross-sectional area recovered to the same levels as those in the Sham-Sedentary rats. However, the cortical bone area did not recover. Periosteal bone formation increased, while endosteal bone formation decreased. These results showed that the climbing exercise had both a preventive and recovery effect on bone strength in OVX rats. In the mid-femur, effects on bone formation were site-specific, and the cross-sectional morphology was improved without an increase in cortical bone area, supporting cortical drift by mechanical stimulation.