Bone mineral density among female sports participants.Bone. 2006 Feb; 38(2):227-33.BONE
Training for and participation in impact-loading sports are associated with alterations in bone strength which are specific to anatomical site and type of strain. The effect of exercise on bone mineral density (BMD) depends on the type of activity engaged in. Sports with high impact loading seem to have a positive effect in promoting bone mineralisation, whereas those with low impacts may have negative or no effects. The aims of the present study were to compare BMD and body composition measures among female participants in three distinctly different sports and investigate differences from sedentary control subjects. Participants were club and university level Rugby Union football players (n = 30, age: 21.4 +/- 1.9 years, height: 1.67 +/- 0.05 m, mass: 73.3 +/- 10.7 kg), netball players (n = 20, 20.7 +/- 1.3 years, 1.68 +/- 0.07 m, 64.3 +/- 7.2 kg), distance runners (n = 11, 21.5 +/- 2.6 years, 1.68 +/- 0.04 m, 57.1 +/- 6.1 kg), and sedentary controls (n = 25, 21.4 +/- 1.1 years; 1.64 +/- 0.07 m, 56.8 +/- 6.8 kg). With the exception of three distance runners, all participants were eumenorrhoeic. Bone mineral density scans were performed for whole-body, left proximal femur, and lumbar spine (L1-4) using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Fat mass, percent body fat, and fat-free soft tissue mass were assessed from whole-body scans. Regional and segmental analysis was also carried out on whole-body BMD data using standard procedures. The runners had a lower fat mass and percent body fat compared to the other sports participants and the controls. All sports groups had higher BMD values than had the controls. Density of bone in the upper body was most pronounced in the rugby football players and least pronounced in the runners. Positive effects were evident at all sites for the rugby players. There were significant correlations between BMD and fat-free soft tissue mass, BMD and body mass, and BMD and training volume. It is concluded that sports participation has positive effects on BMD. The effects are site-specific and depend on the loading characteristics of the sport.