Effect of swimming on bone growth and development in young rats

Aaron Swissa-Sivan*, Ariel Simkin, Isaac Leichter, Abraham Nyska, Meir Nyska, Marian Statter, Arye Bivas, Jacob Menczel, Shlomo Samueloff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of chronic swimming on bone modelling was studied. Forty female Sabra rats (5 weeks old) were randomly assigned to the following experimental groups: 30 rats were trained to swim (water bath 35 ± 1 °C, one h daily, five times a week) for 20 weeks - 20 of them loaded with lead weights (1% body weight) while the rest (10 animals) swam load free. Ten sedentary rats matched for age and weight served as controls. At the end of the twenty-week swimming period, all rats were sacrificed, both humeri bones were dissected and prepared for the following examinations: morphometric, bone density (BD), bone mineral content (BMC), compression tests and cross-sectional geometrical parameters, histomorphometry and biochemical analysis of minerals (Ca, Pi, Mg, Zn). All measured parameters were found to be significantly higher (P < 0.05) in the swimming rats irrespective of load, as compared with the controls. Bone weight was higher by 19%, bone volume by 11%, bone length by 2.8%, cortical area by 16%, BD by 7% and BMC by 15%. The compression breaking force at the distal shaft of the humerus was higher by 24% in the trained group, while the ultimate compressive stress was not significantly different. Maximal and minimal moment of inertia at the distal diaphysis were 33.4 and 40% higher, respectively, for the swimming groups than the controls. Ca, Pi, Mg and Zn levels per total humeral bone were significantly higher in the exercising rats. The histomorphometry and cross-sectional data emphasize longitudinal and transversal growth. These data indicate that swimming exercise exerts a positive effect on bone growth and development in young rats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-105
Number of pages15
JournalBone and Mineral
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone density
  • Bone growth
  • Bone mineral
  • Bone modelling
  • Swimming exercise


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