It is well known the regular physical activity among aging adults can maintain bone health and decrease the risk of fractures. A new study presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s Specialty Day suggests that physical activity and exercise early in life might be equally important.
Bjorn Rosengren, MD, PhD and other researchers performed a controlled exercise intervention among children aged 7-9 in Malmo, Sweden. The intervention group comprised of 362 girls and 446 boys who received 40 minutes of daily physical education at school. The control group consisted of 780 girls and 807 boys who received 60 minutes of physical education per week. The authors collected data on fractures among all participants and assessed skeletal maturity each year.
During the study, there were 72 fractures in the daily exercise group and 143 in the control group. The participants in the exercise group also exhibited higher spine bone mass density than those in the control group.
“Increased activity in the younger ages helped induce higher bone mass and improve skeletal size in girls without increasing the fracture risk. Our study highlights yet another reason why kids need to get regular daily exercise to improve their health both now and in the future,” concluded Rosengren.
This study offers several important messages. First, all of us need to exercise. From our youngest children, to taking care of ourselves as we age, we need to take long walks or go for jogs several times a week. Or we can swim, bike, lift weights, or play sports. While bone loss can occur with age, regular exercise can slow its loss. People with healthy bones likely suffer fewer fractures.
A large amount of bone formation occurs in the first two decades of life. As the study demonstrates, activity at these ages can lead to stronger bones that persist later in life. Sports and exercise done as a kid can lead to better bone health as an adult.
Adults should be exercising regularly for themselves. We can also help our children by getting outside and playing with them. Encouraging them to safely play sports and do all types of physical activities is beneficial for the entire family!
How do you encourage physical activity at all ages?
The American College of Sports Medicine advances and integrates scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine. Since 1954, ACSM has been leading the way in the scientific and public health aspects of physical activity, exercise science and sports medicine. Through its unified membership, ACSM brings together global experts in multiple disciplines from science to practice to policy, including education, medicine, research and health and fitness, to deliver real-world programs that are making a difference in people’s lives.
Kelly Drew, M.S., is an ACSM Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist with Community Bariatric Surgeons at Community Health Network in Indianapolis, IN. Kelly is currently a member of ACSM’s RCEP Committee for Certification and Registry Board. Kelly is passionate about helping people achieve their health and fitness goals through lifestyle change and exercise intervention.