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Biol Sport. 2017 Dec;34(4):361-370. doi: 10.5114/biolsport.2017.69824. Epub 2017 Sep 20.

Longitudinal effects of swimming on bone in adolescents: a pQCT and DXA study.

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GENUD (Growth, Exercise, Nutrition and Development) Research Group, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain.
Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences (FCSD), Department of Physiatry and Nursing, University of Zaragoza, Ronda Misericordia 5, 22001-Huesca, Spain.
Instituto Agroalimentario de Aragón-IA2-(Universidad de Zaragoza-CITA).
Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBERObn).
Centro Universitario de la Defensa, Zaragoza, Spain.


The aims of the present study were, firstly, to evaluate areal bone mineral density (aBMD), bone strength and structure during a swimming season and compare them to those of normo-active controls (CG), and secondly to ascertain whether practising an additional weight-bearing sport other than swimming might improve bone. Twenty-three swimmers who only swam (SWI-PURE; 14 males, 9 females), 11 swimmers who combined swimming with an additional weight-bearing sport (SWI-SPORT; 8 males, 3 females) and 28 controls (CG; 16 males, 12 females) participated in the present study. aBMD was assessed with dual energy X-ray (DXA). Bone mass, area, structure and strength of the non-dominant tibia and radius were measured with peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT). Measurements were performed at the beginning of the swimming season and 8 months later. The only difference among groups for DXA and pQCT variables was found for arm aBMD, which was higher in the SWI-SPORT than in the CG group at both pre- and post-evaluation. Group by time interactions (GxT) were found for trochanter aBMD when comparing SWI-SPORT to CG and SWI-SPORT to SWI-PURE, favouring in both cases SWI-SPORT. No GxT were found for the radius. For the tibia, GxT were found between SWI-SPORT and CG and between SWI-PURE and CG, in both cases favouring the swimmers. A season of swimming does not confer any additional benefits to aBMD, but may confer minor benefits to structure and mass. Complementing swimming with a weight-bearing activity is beneficial to bone.


Athletes; Bone and bones; Bone strength; Motor activity; Swimming

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