Active kids have better bone density

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Physical activity is not only important in preventing obesity in children. A new study is now suggesting that it may have a role in keeping bones strong as well.

Researchers followed 800 boys and girls, ages seven to nine for six years. These children were asked to participate in 40 minutes of physical activity daily during the school day. They recorded the skeletal development of the children as well as any incidents of fractures over the six-year period and compared these numbers to a control group who had been asked to participate in just one hour a week of physical activity. Not only was the number of fractures recorded double in the control group 143 compared to 72 but those in the group exercising 40 minutes a day showed higher bone density in the spine.

In order to look at how these numbers related to fracture risk later in life, researchers also studied a group of 700 former male athletes in their 60s and 70s, and compared their fracture rates with men who had not received athletic training. They found that the former athletes showed smaller loss in bone density.

Dr. Bjorn Rosengren, lead author of the study said, Exercise interventions in childhood may be associated with lower fracture risks as people age, due to the increases in peak bone mass that occurs in growing children who perform regular physical activity. Our study highlights yet another reasons why kids need to get regular daily exercise to improve their health both now and in the future.

Dr. Kava notes We know that bone density typically begins to decrease in early adulthood, so the denser the bones become during childhood, the less likely a fracture will occur later in life. The benefits are seen with weight-bearing exercises such as running, jumping, and skipping rope.