Osteoporosis International

, Volume 17, Issue 11, pp 1691–1697 | Cite as

Former college artistic gymnasts maintain higher BMD: a nine-year follow-up

  • N. K. Pollock
  • E. M. Laing
  • C. M. Modlesky
  • P. J. O’Connor
  • R. D. Lewis
Original Article

Abstract

Introduction

If higher bone gains acquired from weight-bearing sports during growth persist into old age, the residual benefits could delay or even prevent osteoporotic fractures. The purpose of this study was to determine if the higher areal bone mineral density (aBMD) observed 15 years after competitive training and competition in former female college artistic gymnasts (GYM) compared with controls (CON) is maintained nine years later in this same cohort approaching menopause. In this 9-year follow-up, aBMD changes were also compared between GYM (n=16; aged 45.3±3.3 years) and CON (n=13; aged 45.4±3.8 years).

Methods

Total body, lumbar spine, proximal femur, femoral neck, leg, and arm aBMD were assessed at baseline and follow-up using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), (Hologic QDR-1000W). GYM had higher aBMD at all sites at follow-up (P<0.05; η2>0.14).

Results

While there were no significant differences between groups for percent changes in aBMD at the total body, lumbar spine, total proximal femur, femoral neck, and arm, the change in leg aBMD was significantly different between GYM and CON (P=0.05; η2=0.14).

Conclusions

Former female college artistic gymnasts maintained significantly higher aBMD than controls 24 years after retirement from gymnastics training and competition. This study provides greater insight into the effects of past athletic participation on skeletal health in women approaching menopause.

Keywords

Detraining Exercise Former athletes Former gymnasts Gymnastics Retired gymnasts 

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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. K. Pollock
    • 1
  • E. M. Laing
    • 1
  • C. M. Modlesky
    • 2
  • P. J. O’Connor
    • 3
  • R. D. Lewis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Foods and NutritionThe University of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise SciencesThe University of DelawareNewarkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Exercise ScienceThe University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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