Athletic Training in the Teen Years Builds Bones For a Lifetime
August 19, 2006
Men who participate in athletic sports in their late teens gain stronger bones, a benefit that can persist long after they stop exercising intensively. This is because exercise has the greatest effect on bone mineral density during childhood and puberty.
Researchers tracked the bone health of 63 athletes and 27 non-athletes, from when they were an average age of 17 until they were an average age of 25.
The athletic group, composed of hockey and badminton players, actively trained for nine hours every week, and had generally been doing so for about a decade. Their workouts included weight training, playing soccer and long-distance running.
Over the course of the study, 40 athletes stopped their training and, consequently, their average bone mineral density (BMD) fell dramatically.
Nevertheless, the group that was athletically active at the outset of the study had better BMD numbers -- no matter if they continued exercising or didn't -- than the non-athletic group, particularly in their hips, where debilitating fractures often occur. The researchers estimated that the young athletes cut their risk of future fractures in half by being active.