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Physical activity in adolescence can strengthen bones

Encouraging young people to engage in regular physical activity could improve their bone strength in later life, research has found.
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Encouraging young people to engage in regular physical activity could improve their bone strength in later life, research has found.

A study conducted by the University of British Columbia analysed the bone density of 309 adolescent boys and girls using data gathered between 1999-2012.

The team recorded height, weight and body mass and used a questionnaire to determine each subject's health history.

Physical activity and time spent being sedentary was measured by each participant wearing electronic devices during waking hours for a period of seven days.

Inactivity reducing strength

Those engaging in moderate to intense physical activity during growth spurt years exhibited greater bone mass in areas contributing to superior bone strength in adult life.

There was also some evidence that time spent sedentary had a negative effect on

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Encouraging young people to engage in regular physical activity could improve their bone strength in later life, research has found.


Physical activity was measured by participants wearing electronic devices. Picture: iStock

A study conducted by the University of British Columbia analysed the bone density of 309 adolescent boys and girls using data gathered between 1999-2012.

The team recorded height, weight and body mass and used a questionnaire to determine each subject's health history.

Physical activity and time spent being sedentary was measured by each participant wearing electronic devices during waking hours for a period of seven days.

Inactivity reducing strength

Those engaging in moderate to intense physical activity during growth spurt years exhibited greater bone mass in areas contributing to superior bone strength in adult life.

There was also some evidence that time spent sedentary had a negative effect on bone strength, regardless of how often physical activity was engaged in.

'Our findings utilised advanced imaging to extend a convincing body of evidence that physical activity is key to developing a strong and healthy skeleton,' said senior author Heather McKay.

'It's important for children and youths to step away from their screens, get up from the sofa and move.'


McKay H et al (2017) Physical activity, sedentary time, and bone strength from childhood to early adulthood: a mixed longitudinal HR-pQCT study Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. doi: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jbmr.3115/abstract

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