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High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones

Sampling of senior athletes finds better density with some sports,,

SATURDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Playing high-impact sports might help boost bone mineral density in mature athletes.

The finding stemmed from a study of male and female athletes, aged 50 to 93, who took part in the 2005 National Senior Games in Pittsburgh, including 560 who competed in high-impact sports such as basketball, road racing, track and field, triathlon and volleyball.

Ultrasound scans revealed that those who participated in high-impact sports had better bone mineral density than people who participated in low-impact sports. The findings appear in the November/December issue of Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach.

"Our study represents the largest sample of bone mineral density data in mature athletes to date," Dr. Vonda Wright, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said in a news release from the journal. "My colleagues and I were surprised to see that active adult participation in the high-impact sports had such a positive influence on bone health, even in the oldest athletes."

Though osteoarthritis and other factors will keep some from participating in high-impact sports, Wright said, the study "suggests that high-impact sports can play a significant part in healthy bone aging."

"With a multi-part approach and the appropriate use of high-impact exercises, individuals may be able to make greater strides against bone loss than the current treatment strategies imply," she said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more about exercise and bone health.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach, November 2009, news release

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