Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
September 01, 2021
2 min read

High-impact exercise builds bone strength in boys during adolescence

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Boys who engaged in high-impact exercise in early adolescence experienced greater gains in bone mineral density compared with boys who reported no exercise practice, data from a population-based study show.

“Interest on early strategies to prevent diseases like osteoporosis is increasing due to a wide consensus that the optimization of peak bone mass in the early years may be reflected on bone health later in life,” Elisabete Ramos, MPH, PhD, auxiliary professor of epidemiology and research fellow in the unit of cardiovascular research and development at the University of Porto Medical School, Portugal, and colleagues wrote in the study background. “Because during growth the rate of bone modeling is highest, childhood and adolescence are the target periods to maximize bone accrual. Among the set of modifiable factors that are able to modulate peak bone mass, evidence suggests that diet and exercise practice play an important role.”

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Researchers analyzed data from 1,137 adolescents, aged 13 to 17 years (54.5% girls), as part of the population-based cohort EPITeen. Using DXA, researchers assessed BMD at the ultradistal and proximal radius of the nondominant forearm. Extracurricular exercise was categorized as: no exercise, exercise with high impact and exercise with low impact. Beta regression coefficients were used to estimate the association between exercise practice categories at age 13 years and BMD at age 13 and 17 years, as well as BMD gain between evaluations. The findings were published in Bone.

Among boys, there were no statistically significant differences at age 13 years; however, boys who practiced high-impact exercise had the highest BMD at age 17 years (mean, 0.46 g/cm2), whereas boys who practiced low-impact exercise had the lowest BMD (mean, 0.434 g/cm2).

Among boys, after adjustment for height, weight and time of follow-up, those who practiced high-impact exercise at age 13 years had higher BMD at age 17 years (beta = 0.017; 95% CI, 0.005-0.029) and greater BMD gain (beta = 0.013; 95% CI, 0.003-0.023) than boys who did not participate in any exercise.

No statistically significant differences in BMD were observed among girls at age 13 or 17 years across categories of exercise.

“This study revealed that boys engaged in high-impact exercise in early adolescence presented greater levels of BMD throughout adolescence than those reporting no exercise practice, but no significant effect of low-impact exercise was found,” the researchers wrote.