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 (SD 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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Funding This study was financially supported by grants from the Japanese ministry of education and sciences 18500470. The Japanese ministry of education and sciences had no involvement in study design or interpretation of data or in the decision to submit the paper for publication.
Competing interests None declared.