When men aged between 19 years and 24 years exercised it helped stave off the effects of osteoporosis in old age, according to a recent study in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.
“Men who increased their load-bearing activity from age 19 to 24 not only developed more bone but also had larger bones compared to men who were sedentary during the same period,” Mattias Lorentzon, MD, PhD, of the University of Gothenburg, in Gothenburg, Sweden, stated in a press release from the journal. “Osteoporosis actually seems to get its start by age 25 when bones start to lose tissue. So this study sends an important message to young men. The more you move, the more bone you build,” he stated.
Load-bearing sports such as basketball and volleyball promoted bone tissue growth when played for 4 hours or more a week, but other activities like swimming and bicycling did not have the same effect on bone growth, according to the release.
Lorentzon and colleagues evaluated 833 men for the study when they were 18 to 20 years old. Based on results of a questionnaire that the participants completed at the 5-year follow-up, men who stepped up their physical activity and played load-bearing sports had an edge over those men studied who started the study with the same activity level, but reduced it over time.
For every hour spent on a load-bearing activity, men gained bone mass with a 1.3% increase in hip bone density seen for men who participated for 4 hours or more a day. In contrast, men who did not participate in load-bearing sports lost 2.1% hip bone mass over the 5 years they were followed, according to the release.
Though the study was conducted with young Swedish men, the investigators noted these results are likely applicable to Caucasian men worldwide. Future studies need to be performed to examine the effects of load-bearing exercises in woman and individuals of other ethnicities, Lorentzon and colleagues stated in the release.
Nilsson M, Ohlsson C, Odén A, et al. Increased physical activity is associated with enhanced development of peak bone mass in men: a five-year longitudinal study. J Bone Miner Res. 2012. doi:10.1002/jbmr.1549.