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Regular Physical Activity In Childhood Linked To Lower Fracture Risk

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Encouraging your children to engage regularly in physical activity may be one way of helping them reduce the risk of bone fractures in older age, according to the findings of a Swedish study.

The research team, led by Dr Bjorn Rosengren of Malmo´s Skane University Hospital, presented the results of their study during the Chicago-hosted Specialty Day of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. As Dr Rosengren explained, exercise interventions during childhood appear to be linked with a lower risk of fractures later in life. This has to do with the increase in peak bone mass taking place in children who regularly participate in physical activities.

The Swedish team conducted controlled exercise intervention over the course of six years, selecting children aged between seven and nine. The intervention group comprised 362 girls and 446 boys, who engaged in physical activity at school for 40 minutes a day. The control group was made up of 780 girls and 807 boys and they had 60 minutes of physical education weekly. Every year, the researchers examined skeletal development and recorded incident fractures in all subjects. For the duration of the study, the team registered 72 fractures in the intervention group, while the figure for the control group was 143, corresponding to similar fracture risks, but the children in the intervention group showed a higher increase in spine bone mineral density.

Parallel to that, the research team conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study of 709 former male athletes whose mean age was 69. The control group consisted of 1,368 subjects with a mean age of 70. The aim was to determine the number of people who had sustained fractures and bone density rates. The results showed only a minimal drop in bone mass density across the group of former athletes.