There’s a good chance that, as a kid, you spend a lot of time playing organized sports. Aside from getting children off the couch, sports are a great way for youngsters to get exercise. As an added bonus, new research suggests that physical activity could have long-term benefits for children’s bone health.
Putting in the Effort
Authored by researchers based in the United States and Australia, this research appeared in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. The 984 children who participated in the study were tracked from age five to seventeen. Upon reviewing the development of these children, the researchers concluded that playing organized sports for prolonged periods of time had a positive impact on bone health.
“They did find that not only did the enrollment of young kids and adolescents in sports really positively impact their bone strength, but it showed the people who stayed in sports, had even stronger bones,” stated the Cleveland Clinic’s Abby Abelson, who was not directly involved in the study. By the age of twenty, the subjects who consistently played organized sports enjoyed better bone mass levels than their more sedentary counterparts.
Building for the Future
The importance of strong bones cannot be understated. Dr. Abelson notes that osteoporosis is a widespread problem in the United States. Children who spend their formative years building up their bone strength could reap the benefits years later as adults. “What people do in childhood and adolescence, and early adulthood, is really building a bone bank, so we have to pay particular attention to the things that we do when we’re young, so that we can be sure we have the maximum bone strength before we start losing bone,” said Adelson in a Cleveland Clinic press release.
Children don’t have to be stand out athletes to see improved bone health; the report noted that bone mass levels improved for all subjects who played sports, regardless of the sport chosen or the child’s ability level.