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Adolescent exercise associated with long-term superior measures of bone geometry: a cross-sectional DXA and MRI study


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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