School-Age Activities May Have Lasting Bone Benefits

Postmenopausal women who did weight-bearing activities as teens had higher bone mineral content in spine, hip

TUESDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Weight-bearing exercise at a young age may offer benefits to bone health 40 years later, according to research published online Jan. 5 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Takeru Kato, of the Suzuka University of Medical Science in Suzuka, Japan, and colleagues analyzed data from 46 postmenopausal women (mean age 60.2 years) who reported the physical activities in which they participated between the ages of 12 and 18, as well as their current physical activity. The researchers divided the women into two groups: those who previously did weight-bearing sports, such as tennis, softball and volleyball; and those who did non-weight-bearing sports such as swimming, or didn't participate in sports.

Those who participated in weight-bearing sports in their teen years had significantly greater bone mineral content -- measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry -- in the lumbar spine and femoral neck areas, the investigators found. The researchers report that the weight-bearing group also had a greater femoral mid-diaphyseal bone cross-sectional area and periosteal perimeter, as measured by MRI.

"The present results suggest that weight-bearing sports activity in adolescence can affect bone structure, and that cortical bone expands toward the outside due to weight-bearing exercise during junior high and high school. The present findings support the idea that weight-bearing exercise in youth affects bone, and geometric advantages may be preserved even after 40 years," the authors write.

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