Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Girl's recreational gymnastics can have long-term benefits on bone density

Bone density is a topic that frequently recurs because it is important, and women are especially at risk to bone loss. Although a genetic predisposition to low bone density may exist, appropriate exercise and a well-balanced diet play important roles. Bones are believed to primarily increase in density up to a certain age (early 20’s), and then we must maintain bone mass as best we can in the years that follow. Participating in gymnastics from a young age is known to result in increased bone strength and density.

Researchers from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, recently published an article in Osteoporosis International concluding that even recreational young female gymnasts benefit in long-term effects on bone density vs. non-gymnasts.

The researchers measured total body, hip, and spine bone mineral content (BMC) in 120 children, ages 4-9 years: 29 gymnasts, 46 ex-gymnasts, and 45 non-gymnasts. They found that both gymnasts and ex-gymnast had 5% greater adjusted total body BMC that the young non-gymnasts.

Given the young age of the population observed, a 5% change in bone mineral content is very significant. The bottom line is to provide kids time, space and a safe environment for cartwheels, tumbling and bouncing around. It may have a significant impact on their health for years to come.

Read an abstract of the article here.


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