, Volume 72, Issue 1, pp 24-31

Dose Related Association of Impact Activity and Bone Mineral Density in Pre-pubertal Girls

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Impact activity is an important contributor to bone accrual. Children engaging in such activity have been shown to have greater bone mineral density (BMD) than their peers. This cross-sectional study was designed to quantify the association between BMD and impact activity in pre-pubescent girls, specifically examining for a dose-dependent relationship. Fifty 7–11-year-old Caucasian female gymnasts were grouped by hours of gymnastics participation during a 6-month period: LOW, 1–8 hours/week (hrs/wk); HIGH, >8 hrs/wk. They were compared with 20 controls, with height, weight, age, and Tanner stage averages matched to the gymnasts. Total body, forearm, hip, lumbar spine BMD, and body composition were measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Strength was measured by one repetition maximum testing, calcium intake was quantified by questionnaire, and physical activity was measured by questionnaire and activity monitors. Total and regional BMD were greater in the HIGH group than the controls (P<0.05). Furthermore, both total and forearm BMD were greater in the HIGH group than in the LOW group, and greater in the LOW group than in the controls (P<0.05). Simple regression analysis between hrs/wk of gymnastics activity versus total and regional BMD (using maturation-adjusted Z scores) yielded a positive slope for each site. R2 was greatest for hip BMD (R2 = 0.25), and least for lumbar spine (R2 = 0.10) (P<0.0001). In conclusion, in this group of pre-pubescent girls, we observed a dose-dependent relationship between BMD and hrs/wk of impact activity; even moderate doses of impact activity were associated with increased BMD.