Objective: To investigate whether childhood sports participation, particularly weight-bearing sports, has any effect on bone mineral content (BMC), areal bone mineral density (aBMD) and bone geometric characteristics in middle-aged postmenopausal women. Design/setting: In this cross-sectional comparison of two groups, 46 middle-aged women (mean age, 60.2±5.6 years; range, 52-73 years) were grouped according to sport participation during growth: weight-bearing sports, including high-impact weight-bearing activities; and low-impact non-weight-bearing sports or no participation. Main outcome measures: Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA)-measured BMC, aBMD in the lumbar spine and femur. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) determined bone geometric characteristics in the femur, such as femoral mid-diaphyseal cross-sectional area, periosteal and endosteal perimeters and maximum and minimum second moment of area. Results: Postmenopausal middle-aged women with participation in weight-bearing sports during junior high to high school (12-18 years old) displayed significantly greater BMC in both lumbar spine and femoral neck regions, and also significantly greater femoral mid-diaphyseal bone cross-sectional area, periosteal perimeter and maximum and minimum second moment of area than the non-weight-bearing sports group. Conclusions: Adolescent weight-bearing exercise exerts preservational effects on femoral mid-diaphyseal size and shape, while DXA-measured BMC effectively identified the same tendency. Weight-bearing exercise in youth affects bone, and these effects may be preserved as BMC, geometric and structural advantages even after 40 years.
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