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Active Kids Less Likely To Have Fractures in Old Age

Mar 26th, 2013

Active Kids Less Likely To Have FracturesStrengthening bones to avoid fractures during adulthood should be started at a young age.

Previous studies have shown that children who exercise regularly help reduce their risk for obesity and other lifestyle diseases, but latest research also suggests that active kids less likely to have fractures

“Exercise interventions in childhood may be associated with lower fracture risks as people age, due to the increase in peak bone mass that occurs in growing children who perform regular physical activity,” said lead author Dr. Bjorn Rosengren.

For the study, researchers from Sweden’s Skane University Hospital in Malmo followed more than 2,300 children aged 7 to 9 years old. The first group of 808 children participated in 40 minutes of daily physical activity during school while the second or control group of more than 1,500 children completed 60 minutes of physical activity over one week. Over a period of six years, scientists recorded the children’s skeletal development, and documented any reports of fractures.

During the study, researchers recorded 72 fractures in the group that exercised daily, while 143 fractures were recorded in the control group. Children who were physically active for 40 minutes a day also had higher bone density in the spine compared with those who did not get as much exercise.

A higher bone density indicates stronger bones later in life, when bones naturally deteriorate, increasing the risk of fractures and breaks.

Researchers also analyzed fracture rates and bone density scores of 700 former male athletes in their 60s and 70s and compared them with healthy men of the same age who have not been trained at the same level. On average, the former athletes had higher bone density than the nonathletes.

“According to our study, 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,” Dr. Rosengren said. “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.”

The results confirm the benefits of regular exercise on bone health. One study found that the most active women have the highest bone density and lowest risk for osteoporosis. With time, bones lose strength, as cells responsible for building bones become less active and can no longer keep up with the cells that destroy and sequester old bone materials. Experts agree that physical activity can help shift the balance toward a healthy amount of bone growth.

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