Lessons From Black Bears About the Best Way to Regain Bone Lost to Inactivity

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Excerpt

Humans have come to envy black bears' ability to withstand inactivity. Bears can snooze for up to six months of the year and emerge from hibernation with no permanent damage to their bones.
They resume a normal lifestyle and normal loading remarkably quickly, with no apparent ill effects. Humans attempting the same lifestyle transition quickly come to grief, as long-distance space travelers have demonstrated.
A 2003 study by Seth W. Donahue, PhD, et al. contradicted a widespread assumption about the bones of hibernating bears. Many scientists had assumed that bears—by dint of some mysterious metabolic process—do not lose appreciable amounts of bone during hibernation. (See Donahue et al., 2003.
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