Physical activity increases bone mass during growth

  • Magnus K. Karlsson
  • Anders Nordqvist
  • Caroline Karlsson
Keywords: bone mass, bone mineral content, BMC, bone mineral density, BMD, exercise, growth, nutrition, physical activity, skeletal structure


Background: The incidence of fragility fractures has increased during the last half of the 1900’s. One
important determinant of fractures is the bone mineral content (BMC) or bone mineral density (BMD), the
amount of mineralised bone. If we could increase peak bone mass (the highest value of BMC reached during
life) and/or decrease the age-related bone loss, we could possibly improve the skeletal resistance to fracture.
Objective: This review evaluates the importance of exercise as a strategy to improve peak bone mass, including
some aspects of nutrition.
Design: Publications within the field were searched through Medline (PubMed) using the search words:
exercise, physical activity, bone mass, bone mineral content, bone mineral density, BMC, BMD, skeletal
structure and nutrition. We included studies dealing with exercise during growth and young adolescence. We
preferably based our inferences on randomised controlled trials (RCT), which provide the highest level of
Results: Exercise during growth increases peak bone mass. Moderate intensity exercise intervention programs
are beneficial for the skeletal development during growth. Adequate nutrition must accompany the exercise to
achieve the most beneficial skeletal effects by exercise.
Conclusion: Exercise during growth seems to enhance the building of a stronger skeleton through a higher
peak bone mass and a larger bone size.


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How to Cite
Karlsson M. K., Nordqvist A., & Karlsson C. (2008). Physical activity increases bone mass during growth. Food & Nutrition Research, (52).
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