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A longitudinal study of the relationship of physical activity to bone mineral accrual from adolescence to young adulthood

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.bone.2008.07.245
  • Physical Activity
  • Bone Mineralization
  • Growth
  • Longitudinal
  • Children
  • Adolescents
  • Adults


Abstract Physical activity in adolescence is beneficial for increasing bone mineral accrual; however, it's unclear whether these benefits persist into adulthood. This prospective study investigated whether physically active adolescents maintained their higher bone mineral content (BMC) into the third decade of life when compared to their less active peers. Data were from 154 subjects (82 females and 72 males) who participated in the University of Saskatchewan's Pediatric Bone Mineral Accrual Study (1991–1997), entry age 8 to 15 years. Participants returned for follow-up as young adults (2002–2006), follow-up age 23 to 30 years. Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry was used to measure BMC of total body (TB), lumbar spine (LS), total hip (TH) and femoral neck (FN) annually from 1991 to 1997 and from 2002 to 2006. Peak height velocity (PHV) was determined for each child as a measure of maturity. Age and gender-specific activity Z-scores were calculated for each participant based on the mean physical activity scores obtained from bi-annual questionnaire data during childhood and adolescence. Subjects were ranked into three adolescent activity groups: active, average and inactive (top, middle two, and bottom quartiles, respectively). Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to compare adjusted TB, LS, TH and FN BMC across the three adolescent activity groups at 1 year post PHV and in young adulthood. When compared to the inactive group, active males had 8% greater adjusted BMC at the TB, 13% at the LS and 11% at the TH ( p < 0.05) in adolescence. Active females also had 8% and 15% more adjusted BMC ( p < 0.05) at the TB and LS, respectively, during adolescence. In young adulthood the male and female adolescent active groups were still significantly more active than their peers ( p > 0.05). It was found that active adolescent males had 8–10% more adjusted BMC at the TB, TH and FN ( p < 0.05) in young adulthood and that active adolescent females had 9% and 10% more adjusted BMC at the TH and FN. These results suggest that the skeletal benefits of physically activity in adolescents are maintained into young adulthood.

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