Skip to main content


Log in

Past sporting activity during growth induces greater bone mineral content and enhances bone geometry in young men and women

  • Original Article
  • Published:
Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism Aims and scope Submit manuscript


We aimed to determine the effect of past sporting activity on bone mineral content (BMC), areal bone mineral density (aBMD) in the lumbar spine and proximal femur, and bone geometry of the mid femur in young men and women. We assessed 142 subjects, comprising 79 young men (21.2 ± 0.8 years) and 63 premenopausal young women (21.4 ± 0.6 years). The subjects were classified into three groups, two on the basis of the age of starting to participate in sport [elementary school starters (6–12 years), junior high school to university starters (13–22 years)], and the third group had no participation in sport. We measured BMC and aBMD by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) in the lumbar spine and proximal femur, and bone geometric characteristics of the mid femur by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and calculated the osteogenic index (OI) of previous sporting activity. The OI correlated significantly with many MRI-determined measures of bone geometry; DXA-measured BMC and aBMD were effective indicators of previous sporting activity in both sexes. The female elementary school starters had significantly greater femoral mid-diaphyseal perimeters (vs the no-sport group), bone cross-sectional area (vs the 13–22-year-old starters and the no-sport group), and maximum and minimum second moment of area at the mid-diaphysis point of the femur (vs the no-sport group). The OI is a proven practicable and useful index. DXA- and MRI-determined geometric characteristics showed that high-impact, weight-bearing exercise before and in early puberty induces greater total proximal femur BMC and enhances femoral mid-diaphyseal size and shape, and that these benefits persisted in young adult women.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. National Institutes of Health (2000) Osteoporosis prevention, diagnosis, and therapy. NIH consensus statement 2000 March 27–29, vol 17, pp 1–36

  2. Kohrt WM, Bloomfield SA, Little KD, Nelson ME, Yingling VR (2004) Physical activity and bone health. Med Sci Sports Exerc 36:1985–1996

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Erlandson MC, Kontulainen SA, Chilibeck PD, Arnold CM, Baxter-Jones ADG (2011) Bone mineral accrual in 4- to 10-year-old precompetitive, recreational gymnasts: a 4-year longitudinal study. J Bone Miner Res 26:1313–1320

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Faulkner RA, Rorwood MR, Beck TJ, Mafukidze JC, Russell K, Wallace W (2003) Strength indices of the proximal femur and shaft in prepubertal female gymnasts. Med Sci Sports Exerc 35:513–518

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Proctor KL, Adams WC, Shaffrath JD, Van Loan MD (2002) Upper-limb bone mineral density of female collegiate gymnasts versus controls. Med Sci Sports Exerc 34:1830–1835

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Bass SL, Saxon L, Daly RM, Turner CH, Robling AG, Seeman E, Stuckey S (2002) The effect of mechanical loading on the size and shape of bone in pre-, peri- and postpubertal girls: a study in tennis players. J Bone Miner Res 17:2274–2280

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Ducher G, Bass SL, Saxon L, Daly RM (2011) Effects of repetitive loading on the growth-induced changes in bone mass and cortical bone geometry: a 12-month study in pre/peri- and postmenarchaeal tennis players. J Bone Miner Res 26:1321–1329

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Kontulainen S, Sievanen H, Kannus P, Pasanen M, Vuori I (2002) Effect of long-term impact-loading on mass, size, and estimated strength of humerus and radius of female racquet-sports players: a peripheral quantitative computed tomography study between young and old starters and controls. J Bone Miner Res 17:2281–2289

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. MacDonald HM, Kontulainen SA, Khan KM, McKay HA (2007) Is a school-based physical activity intervention effective for increasing tibial bone strength in boys and girls? J Bone Miner Res 22:434–446

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. MacKay HA, MacLean L, Petit M, MacKelvie-O’Brien K, Janssen P, Beck T, Khan KM (2005) “Bounce at the Bell”: a novel program of short bouts of exercise improves proximal femur bone mass in early pubertal children. Br J Sports Med 39:521–526

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. MacKelvie KJ, McKay HA, Moran O, Khan KM (2002) Bone mineral response to a 7-month randomized controlled, school-based jumping intervention in 121 prepubertal boys: associations with ethnicity and body mass index. J Bone Miner Res 17:834–844

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Witze KA, Snow CM (2000) Effects of plyometric jump training on bone mass in adolescent girls. Med Sci Sports Exerc 32:1051–1057

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Löfgren B, Detter F, Dencker M, Stenevi-Lundgren S, Nilsson J, Karlsson MK (2011) Infuluence of a 3-year exercise intervention program on fracture risk, bone mass and bone size in prepubertal children. J Bone Miner Res 26:1740–1747

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Warden SJ, Fuchs R, Castillo AB, Nelson IR, Turner CH (2007) Exercise when young provides lifelong benefits to bone structure and strength. J Bone Miner Res 22:251–259

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Kim BT, Mosekilde L, Duan Y et al (2003) The structural and hormonal basis of sex differences in peak appendicular bone strength in rats. J Bone Miner Res 18:150–155

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Nilsson M, Ohosson C, Mellstrom D, Lorentzon M (2009) Previous sport activity during childhood and adolescence is associated with increased cortical bone size in young adult men. J Bone Miner Res 24:125–133

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Greene DA, Nauhton GA, Bradshaw E, Moresi M, Ducher G (2012) Mechanical loading with or without weight-bearing activity: influence on bone strength index in elite female adolescent athletes engaged in water polo, gymnastics, and track-and-field. J Bone Miner Metab 30:580–587

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Seeman E (2003) Pathogenesis of osteoporosis. J Appl Physiol 95:2142–2151

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Petit MA, McKay HA, MacKelvie KJ, Heinonen A, Khan KM, Beck TJ (2002) A randomized school-based jumping intervention confers site and maturity-specific benefits on bone structural properties in girls: a hip structural analysis study. J Bone Miner Res 17:363–372

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Robling AG, Hinant FM, Burr DB, Turner CH (2002) Improved bone structure and strength after long-term mechanical loading is greatest if loading is separated into short bouts. J Bone Miner Res 17:1545–1554

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Szulc P, Seeman E, Duboeuf F, Sornay-Rendu E, Delmas PD (2006) Bone fragility: failure of periosteal apposition to compensate for increased endocortical resorption in postmenopausal women. J Bone Miner Res 21:1856–1863

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Kato T, Yamashita T, Mizutani S, Honda A, Matumoto M, Umemura Y (2009) Adolescent exercise associated with long-term superior measures of bone geometry: a cross-sectional DXA and MRI study. Br J Sports Med 43:932–935

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Dolan SH, Williams DP, Ainsworth BE, Shaw JM (2006) Development and reproducibility of the loading history questionnaire. Med Sci Sports Exerc 38:1121–1131

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Kohrt WM, Ehsani AA, Birge SJ (1997) Effects of exercise involving predominantly either joint-reaction or ground–reaction forces on bone mineral density in older women. J Bone Miner Res 12:1253–1261

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Seeman E (2002) Periosteal bone formation—a neglected determinant of bone strength. N Engl J Med 349:320–322

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Miyabara Y, Onoe Y, Harada A, Kuroda T, Sasaki S, Ohta H (2007) Effect of physical activity and nutrition on bone mineral density in young Japanese women. J Bone Miner Metab 25:414–418

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


This study was financially supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI) from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology does not have any involvement in study design, interpretation of data and in the decision to submit the paper for publication.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Takeru Kato.

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kato, T., Niwa, M., Yamashita, T. et al. Past sporting activity during growth induces greater bone mineral content and enhances bone geometry in young men and women. J Bone Miner Metab 33, 569–576 (2015).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: