People on a plant-based diet who do strength training as opposed to other forms of exercise such as biking or swimming may have stronger bones than other people on a vegan diet, according to new research published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
About 6% of people in the U.S. are vegans. Recent research shows a plant-based diet can be associated with lower bone mineral density and increased fracture risk.
“Veganism is a global trend with strongly increasing numbers of people worldwide adhering to a purely plant-based diet,” says Christian Muschitz, MD, of St. Vincent Hospital Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna in Vienna, Austria. “Our study showed resistance training offsets diminished bone structure in vegan people when compared to omnivores.”
The authors compared data from 43 men and women on a plant-based diet for at least five years and 45 men and women on an omnivore diet for at least five years. Omnivores eat meat as well as plant-based foods.
The researchers found vegan participants who did resistance training exercises such as using machines, free weights, or bodyweight resistance exercises at least once a week had stronger bones than those who did not. They also found vegans and omnivores who engaged in resistance training had similar bone structure.
“People who adhere to a vegan lifestyle should perform resistance training on a regular basis to preserve bone strength,” Muschitz says.
Other authors of this study include: Robert Wakolbinger-Habel of the Vienna Healthcare Group and the Medical University of Vienna in Vienna, Austria; Matthias Reinweber of the Vienna Healthcare Group; Jürgen König, Daniel König and Rochus Pokan of the University of Vienna in Vienna, Austria; and Peter Pietschmann of the Medical University of Vienna.
The study received no external funding. The manuscript, “Self-Reported Resistance Training is Associated with Better HR-pQCT Derived Bone Microarchitecture in Vegan People,” was published online, ahead of print.