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High G-force activities as osteoporosis prevention and therapy

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J
Juran Sep 02, 2021
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The idea is to have frequent g-force experiences in order to treat osteopenia - strengthen the bones and prevent/lower the effects of osteoporosis. These experiences could include simulated space flights (like NASA training), Formula 1 rides, Roller Coasters, trampolines, etc.

Introduction

Osteoporosis
Losing bone density and strength is considered a normal part of aging caused by the "mismatch" between bone formation (osteoblasts) and resorption (osteoclasts). When "mismatch" progresses and a person reaches a slightly lower density of bones than the average person of their age, it's diagnosed with osteopenia. If the condition worsens, it's called osteoporosis. Weakened bones become very fragile and even slight stress can cause them to break .

Risk factors
Developing osteoporosis depends mostly on genetics, age (chance of developing increases by age) gender (women have higher chance of developing), race (white and Asian people get it more often), levels of sex and thyroid hormones, dietary habits, medical conditions, daily habits and exercising .

Since it's normal aging process and many factors play a role in development of osteoporosis, it mostly comes down to how much bone mass you attained in your youth and how much you care. By regular calcium and vitamin D supplement intake, exercising and "living healthy", you could postpone the bone loss .

The idea backstory

What if we could do something more to prevent osteopenia, and consequently osteoporosis? Besides weight-bearing and resistance exercises , could we use any other exercise that would specifically target the bones and make them stronger and more dense?

As @Darko Savić proposed in his session, the researchers also stated that "high-impact exercises that produce large rates of deformation of the bone matrix best drive fluid through the lacunar-canalicular network system, thus stimulates more effectively osteogenesis." Also, research showed the prolonged exercises has diminishing effects on bone stimulation .

One example of high-impact "passive" exercise is the experience of strong gravitational forces (G forces). G force of 1G is a force that we experience when standing on the Earth. Any force that causes the body to accelerate the same rate as the gravitational force would cause it to is therefore equivalent to 1G. Some activities cause body to experienceforces much stronger than 1 G:
  • Bugatti Veyron acceleration from 1-100 kph 2.3 s - 1.2 G
  • Deceleration from 173 km/h to zero in a distance of about 0.66 m - 180 G
  • Space Shuttle launching and re-entry - 3 G
  • Roller Coasters - up to 6.3 G
  • Average passing out limit - 5 G
  • Death and serious injury - 50 G
  • Fighter Jet flight - up to 9 G

The idea itself

The idea is to promote high G-force experiences as great exercises to prevent or lower the bone loss. Some of these experiences already exist and should be slightly modified to fulfillthe requirements and ensure safety:
  • high-speed racing could be turn therapeutical if only fast accelerations anddecellerations were considered
  • roller-coasters with less curves and more up's and down's could be beneficial
  • trampoline arena's should be promoted as health experiences, but special caution is needed in order to prevent injuries
  • gyms and therapeutic centres could implement g-force rooms where users could experience short space-fligh G forces
The idea is backed up by limited number of papers, which mostly confirm the beneficial effect of high-G exercises on bone strength .
All these could also fit in @Samuel Bello's session about the runner's high.

Problems to consider

The astronauts experiencing high G forces reported problems with sight.
Also, increased heart rate when experiencing the force could be dangerous for certain users.
It' important to highlight that based on user's medical state, strong regulations should be applied in order to keep everybody safe.

I would be delighted to hear your comments and insights, possible drawbacks and implementation techniques.

[1]https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351968

[2]https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/osteoporosis/

[3]https://journals.lww.com/acsm-essr/fulltext/2003/01000/designing_exercise_regimens_to_increase_bone.9.aspx

[4]https://www.howitworksdaily.com/g-force-explained-how-acceleration-can-knock-you-out/

[5]https://www.npl.co.uk/resources/q-a/are-g-forces-caused-by-gravity

[6]https://ehub.ardusat.com/experiments/1597

[7]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G-force

[8]https://www.medicaldaily.com/breaking-point-whats-strongest-g-force-humans-can-tolerate-369246

[9]https://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/does-high-impact-exercise-strengthen-bones.html

[10]http://www.jrpms.eu/articles/jrpms_v03i01_001.pdf

[11]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22492557/

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Creative contributions

Not just osteoporosis but other diseases involving hormonal imbalances, too

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Sep 03, 2021
Great idea, @Juran! The G-force activities involve physical risk and fear (of injury), which have been shown to maintain optimum levels of or improve the deficiencies in certain hormones and their downstream pathways. I believe that a component of the beneficial effect of G-force activities on osteoporosis is via the involved hormones.

There also exist links between bone health and metabolic factors. For example, the hormone osteocalcin is released by the osteoblasts during bone remodeling. Osteocalcin circulates in the blood and has receptors on the pancreas, muscle, adipose tissue, testis, and brain. Osteocalcin improves glucose metabolism by increasing the proliferation of β-cell and insulin synthesis, muscle metabolism by improving the insulin sensitivity of myocytes, fat metabolism by improving insulin sensitivity and increasing adiponectin production in adipocytes, and reproductive health (fertility) by stimulating the production of testosterone in the testis. Therefore, it could help with type 2 diabetes, sarcopenia, infertility, and polycystic ovarian syndrome, too.

Therefore, due to the complex interactions between the different tissues in the body, simply targeting one of them, in this case, the bone, may show secondary beneficial effects on other tissues, too.

[1]Battaglino, R.A., Nguyen, N., Summers, M. et al. Factors associated with osteocalcin in men with spinal cord injury: findings from the FRASCI study. Spinal Cord 57, 1014–1022 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41393-019-0327-8

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Povilas S
Povilas S3 months ago
Juran Shubhankar Kulkarni However, as I understand, the main factor which helps prevent osteoporosis, in this case, is mechanical force? The bones frequently exposed to high G forces become stronger (perhaps by developing a denser bone tissue ) by the mechanism of hormesis. Is that correct?
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni3 months ago
Povilas S Yes, the mechanical force is the trigger to improve bone density to perform G-force activities more easily in the future. the body prepares itself for future similar stressors. However, in the body, the mechanical force translates to not only physical deposition of calcium in the bone but also changes in the bone architecture in terms of density of cells, activation of stem cells, changes in osteoblast/ osteoclast ratio, etc. Also, it brings about physiological changes like in the concentration of the hormone osteocalcin. All these changes together promote bone health and reduce osteoporosis. The hormones (like osteocalcin) have other roles in the body apart from bone remodeling (mentioned in the contribution).
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Juran3 months ago
Thank you for this valuable contribution! I am keen on believing that this could be one of the mechanisms behind the beneficial effect of G forces. Great find!
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General comments

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Povilas S
Povilas S3 months ago
I love the idea! Of course, at this point, there's no sufficient evidence (as I understand) to claim that this would significantly help prevent osteoporosis, but it's one of those rare ideas that combine fun with health benefits in a cool way. It's that kind of fun that is not only pleasant but challenging and requires a certain psychological and sometimes (in those high G cases) also physical strength. That's a perfect formula to make the idea attractive to others.
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