Researchers claim that exercises involving "weight-bearing," such as high-impact sports or soccer, are great for strengthening bones in little girls.
"Beyond the basic premise that kids need exercise, our study suggests that weight-bearing exercise with skeletal impact needs to be promoted during youth to preserve future bone health," explained James W. Bellew from Louisiana State University in Shreverport in a prepared statement.
The study compared the bone mineral density (BMD) of three groups of adolescent female athletes: 29 swimmers, 16 soccer players and 19 weightlifters. The BMD is a standard measurement of bone strength. The soccer players had the highest BMD, followed by weightlifters and swimmers. According to Bellew, not only is soccer a weight-bearing sport, it also places repetitive impact on the skeleton, which further promotes bone development.
The average BMD values among the soccer players were higher than normal values for adult women even though the girls in the study weren't fully matured. The BMD levels of the weightlifters were similar to those of adult women, and the BMD levels of the swimmers were lower than normal.
"Just as in other sports that require a lot of running and jumping, soccer is definitely a good option for building bone strength. Lacrosse and field hockey are also ideal sports that place a continuous load on the skeleton," commented Bellew.
"Swimmers can take on other forms of exercise to promote bone development. For example, they should try training with weights in weight-bearing positions, or add athletics as a cross training activity," added Bellew.
This study appears in the journal Pediatric Physical Therapy.
Author rights, HealthDay 2006
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