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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jun;42(6):1072-8. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181c619b2.

Early physical activity provides sustained bone health benefits later in childhood.

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Department of Health and Sport Studies, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.



This study examined the potential effect of early childhood moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) on later bone health.


Three hundred and thirty-three children, participating in the Iowa Bone Development Study, were studied at ages 5, 8, and 11 yr. MVPA (min x d(-1)) was measured using an accelerometry-based physical activity monitor. Bone mineral content (BMC; g) of the whole body, lumbar spine, and hip was measured using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Mixed regression models were used to test whether MVPA at age 5 yr had an effect on BMC at ages 8 and 11 yr after adjustment for concurrent height, weight, age, maturity, and MVPA. The analysis was repeated to control for bone outcomes at age 5 yr. Mixed-model least-squares mean values at the person level of covariates for age group were used to compare the BMC at ages 8 and 11 yr of children in the highest and lowest quartiles of MVPA at age 5 yr.


For boys and girls, MVPA at age 5 yr predicted BMC adjusted for concurrent height, weight, age, maturity, and MVPA at ages 8 and 11 yr (P < 0.05). When the analysis was repeated to also control for BMC at age 5 yr, the effect of MVPA at age 5 yr was significant for boys but not for girls. Boys and girls in the highest quartile of MVPA at age 5 yr had 4%-14% more BMC at ages 8 and 11 yr than those in the lowest quartile of MVPA at age 5 yr (P < 0.05).


These results provide support for the benefits of early MVPA on sustained bone health during childhood especially for boys. Results indicate the importance of increasing MVPA as a strategy to improve BMC later in childhood.

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