Youth Sports Build Strong Bones for Life

Weight-Bearing Exercise Has Lasting Benefits for Women’s Bone Strength

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on December 22, 2008

Dec. 22, 2008 -- Participating in youth sports may provide lasting benefits for women's bones.

A new study shows older women who participated in weight-bearing activities like running, volleyball, and tennis during adolescence have stronger bones later in life than women who didn't play sports or did only non-weight-bearing exercise like swimming.

Researchers say the findings suggest that weight-bearing exercise in adolescence may help maintain strong bones throughout life and compensate for the natural loss of bone strength that occurs in women after menopause.

Sports Build Strong Bones

In the study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers compared the effect of youth sports participation in 46 postmenopausal women aged 52 to 73 on two major contributors to overall bone strength: bone mineral content and bone mineral density.

Researchers found that women who participated in weight-bearing sports that involve running and jumping, such as track and field, tennis, and volleyball, in junior high and high school had significantly greater bone strength in at least two main areas than women who didn't play sports or those who participated in non-weight-bearing exercise.

Although there was no difference in bone mineral density between the two groups, researchers found that the weight-bearing exercise group had significantly greater bone mineral content in the spine and thigh bone.

Researcher Takeru Kato of the Suzuka University of Medical Science in Japan and colleagues, say none of the women did weight-bearing exercise at the time of the current study, which suggests that the benefits of weight-bearing exercise in youth may last 40 years or more.

Show Sources


Kato, T. British Journal of Sports Medicine, Dec. 23, 2008 online advance edition.

News release, British Medical Journals.

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