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Effects of a 4-Month Recruit Training Program on Markers of Bone Metabolism


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: November 2008 - Volume 40 - Issue 11 - p S660-S670
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318189422b
November Supplement

Stress fracture susceptibility results from accelerated bone remodeling after onset of novel exercise and may be reflected in bone turnover changes. It is unknown if the bone turnover response to exercise is different between sexes.

Purpose: To assess disparity between sexes in bone metabolism markers during military recruit training and to evaluate relationships between bone turnover markers and factors that may affect bone metabolism.

Methods: Volunteers were age-matched men (n = 58) and women (n = 199), 19 yr old, entering gender-integrated combat training. Blood was collected at 0, 2, and 4 months and anthropometric and fitness measures at 0 and 4 months. Serum was analyzed for biomarkers reflecting bone formation (bone alkaline phosphatase and procollagen I N-terminal peptide), bone resorption (C-telopeptide cross-links of type I collagen and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase), endocrine regulation (parathyroid hormone, calcium, and 25(OH)D), and inflammation (interleukin 1B, interleukin 6, and tumor necrosis factor α). Data were analyzed using ANOVA, correlation, and regression analyses.

Results: Bone turnover markers were higher in men (P < 0.01) and increased similarly for both sexes from 0 to 2 months (P < 0.01). Independent of gender, V˙O2max (R 2 = 0.477) and serum calcium (R 2 = 0.252) predicted bone formation activity (bone alkaline phosphatase) at baseline (P < 0.01). Serum calcium and parathyroid hormone decreased (2.0 and 6.4%, respectively) from 0 to 2 months (P < 0.001), returning to baseline at 4 months for both sexes. Men exhibited a decrease in 25(OH)D from 0 to 4 months (P = 0.007). Changes in endocrine regulators were significantly correlated with changes in bone turnover markers. Inflammatory markers did not differ between sexes and did not increase.

Conclusion: Military training increased bone formation and resorption markers in 2 months, suggesting rapid onset of strenuous exercise accelerates bone turnover similarly in men and women. Although bone turnover markers were higher in men than women, bone formation status may be related to aerobic fitness and serum calcium independent of gender and may be affected by small changes in endocrine regulators related to nutrition.

1US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, MA; and 2Heller Institute of Medical Research, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, ISRAEL

Address for correspondence: LTC Rachel Evans, Ph.D., Military Performance Division, US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Building 42, Kansas Street, Natick, MA 01760; E-mail:

©2008The American College of Sports Medicine