High-intensity exercise of short duration alters bovine bone density and shape

K. M. Hiney, B. D. Nielsen, D. Rosenstein, M. W. Orth, B. P. Marks

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32 Scopus citations


The ability of short-duration high-intensity exercise to stimulate bone formation in confinement was investigated using immature Holstein bull calves as a model. Eighteen bull calves, 8 wk of age, were assigned to one of three treatment groups: 1) group-housed (GR, which served as a control), 2) confined with no exercise (CF), or 3) confined with exercise (EX). The exercise protocol consisted of running 50 m on a concrete surface once daily, 5 d/wk. Confined calves remained stalled for the 42-d duration of the trial. Blood samples were taken to analyze concentrations of osteocalcin and deoxypyridinoline, markers of bone formation and resorption. At the completion of the trial, calves were humanely killed, and both forelegs were collected. The fused third and fourth metacarpal bone was scanned using computed tomography for determination of cross-sectional geometry and bone mineral density. Three-point bending tests to failure were performed on metacarpal bones. The exercise protocol resulted in the formation of a rounder bone in EX as well as in increased dorsal cortex thickness compared with those in the GR and CF. The exercised calves had a significantly smaller medullary cavity than CF and GR (P < 0.01) and a larger percentage of cortical bone area than CF (P < 0.01). Dorsal, palmar, and total bone mineral density was greater in EX than in CF (P < 0.05), and palmar and total bone mineral densities were greater (P < 0.05) in EX than in GR. There was a trend for the bones of EX to have a higher fracture force than CF (P < 0.10). Osteocalcin concentrations normalized from d 0 were higher in EX than CF (P < 0.05). Therefore, the exercise protocol altered bone shape and seemed to increase bone formation comparison with the stalled and group-housed calves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1612-1620
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • Bone Development
  • Bovine
  • Confinement
  • Exercise


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