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A 3-Year Longitudinal Study of the Effect of Physical Activity on the Accrual of Bone Mineral Density in Healthy Adolescent Males

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Abstract

It has previously been suggested that physical activity predominantly influences the accumulation of bone density before puberty. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of physical activity on the accumulation of bone mass in male athletes between 16 and 19 years of age. The cohort studied consisted of 12 badminton players (aged 16.1 ± 0.5), 20 ice hockey players (aged 16.1 ± 0.5), and 24 age-matched controls (aged 16.1 ± 0.6). The bone mineral density (BMD, g/cm2) of the total body, spine, dominant and nondominant humerus, head and femoral neck was measured twice with a 3-year interval by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). In addition, at the femoral neck, volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD, mg/cm3) was estimated. At baseline, the athletes as a whole group had significantly higher BMD at the total body (P = 0.03), dominant (P = 0.006) and nondominant humerus (P = 0.009) and femoral neck (P = 0.007) compared to the controls. At the 3-year followup, the athletes had significantly higher BMD at all sites (total body; P = 0.003, spine; P = 0.02, dominant humerus; P = 0.001, nondominant humerus; P = <0.001, femoral neck; P = 0.001) except for the head (P = 0.91) compared with controls. The athletes also had higher vBMD at the femoral neck compared with the controls (P = 0.01). Furthermore, to be an athlete was found to be independently associated with a higher increase in nondominant humerus BMD (β = 0.24; P < 0.05) and femoral neck BMD (β = 0.30; P < 0.05) compared with the controls, during the study period. In summary, these results suggests that it is possible to achieve continuous gains in bone mass in sites exposed to osteogenic stimulation after puberty in males by engaging in weight-bearing physical activity.

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by grants from Länsförsäkringar insurance company, project number P4/01, and from the Swedish National Center for Research in Sports, project number 112/01.

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Correspondence to A. Gustavsson.

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Gustavsson, A., Thorsen, K. & Nordström, P. A 3-Year Longitudinal Study of the Effect of Physical Activity on the Accrual of Bone Mineral Density in Healthy Adolescent Males . Calcif Tissue Int 73, 108–114 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00223-002-2026-1

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