Updated 04 July 2014

Playing sports builds healthy bones

Young men who play load-bearing sports such as basketball and volleyball have a reduced risk of osteoporosis later in life, according to a new study.


Young men who play load-bearing sports such as basketball and volleyball have a reduced risk of osteoporosis later in life, according to a new study.

Researchers measured the bone mass of more than 800 men aged 18 to 20 and collected information about their exercise habits. Five years later, the men again underwent bone scans and reported their physical activity levels.

Men who did a lot of load-bearing activities at the start of the study and those who increased their amounts of exercise during the five years had a better chance of building bone than those who weren't as active.

The researchers found that men who played load-bearing sports for four hours a week or more had an average 1.3% increase in hip-bone density. Men who remained sedentary over the five years had an average 2.1 % decrease in hip-bone density.

Thinning bones and osteoporosis

Thinning hip bones are more likely to break later in life, and hip fractures in men can lead to serious disability and complications, said the authors of the study, which was published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

"Men who increased their load-bearing activity from age 19 to 24 not only developed more bone, but also had larger bones compared to men who were sedentary during the same period," senior study author Dr Mattias Lorentzon, of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, said.

Bigger bones with more mass are believed to help protect against osteoporosis, a disease in which bones become porous and weak over time and start to fracture by age 50 or later.

"Osteoporosis actually seems to get its start by age 25 when bones start to lose tissue," Lorentzon said. "So this study sends an important message to young men: The more you move, the more bone you build."

Lorentzon and his colleagues found that the best activities for building bone mass are basketball, volleyball, soccer and tennis. The jumping and fast starts and stops required in these sports increase the load put on the body's bones, which encourages the formation of new bone tissue.

Read more:
Common fracture sites for osteoporosis

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases outlines exercises to boost bone health.

(Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Healthy Bones

Tereza is the CEO of the National Osteoporosis Foundation and worked as a Nursing Sister in the field of Osteoporosis for 18 years prior to her appointment with the Foundation. She used to be the Educational Officer for the Foundation and co-wrote the patient brochure on Osteoporosis. Read more

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules