Sports Medicine

, Volume 37, Issue 7, pp 587–600 | Cite as

Physical Activity, Calcium Intake and Bone Health in Children and Adolescents

Review Article


Osteoporosis is a serious and potentially debilitating disease, which can lead to a variety of health complications and a diminished quality of life. Consequently, the development of bone mineral density (BMD) and content (BMC) during childhood and adolescence is of great importance, as it may attenuate the effects and incidence of osteoporosis later in life. Identifying the mechanisms by which bones are strengthened early in life is crucial. This review highlights research examining factors that influence BMD and BMC in children and adolescents. While a sizeable amount of variation in BMD and BMC in children and adolescents can be attributed to genetic factors and body size, studies have also shown the positive influence of physical activity and calcium intake on bone development. Research supporting the role of these modifiable factors varies according to age, sex and the bone site studied. During the pubertal years, large gains in BMD and BMC are evident. However, physical activity and calcium intake are also important to the development of BMD and BMC during the prepubertal years. Thus, actions taken throughout childhood may exert a great impact on BMD and BMC, and overall bone health as an adult.



Funding was provided during the writing of this review from the Douglas Conley Memorial Scholarship and the North American Society for Pediatric Exercise medicine student research grant. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Exercise and Sport ScienceThe University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Middle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroUSA

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