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High Impact Sports Participation May Improve Bone Mineral Density in Mature Athletes

New study highlights positive influence of sports participation on bone health

Rosemont, IL (Vocus) November 9, 2009 -- As people age fractures increase and bone health decreases. Recent research has highlighted the importance of exercise and calcium supplements to help prevent these issues. However, a new study published in the November/December issue of Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach reveals that there may be significant gains to be made when mature individuals participate in higher impact athletic activities.

Our study represents the largest sample of bone mineral density (BMD) data in mature athletes to date. 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 most oldest athletes," said Vonda Wright, MD, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The study evaluated 560 athletes who participated in the 2005 National Senior Games (the Senior Olympics) held in Pittsburgh, PA. The average age of participants was 65.9 years old (range 50 to 93). There were 298 women and 289 men who participated in the high impact sports during the games which included basketball, road race running, track and field, triathlon and volleyball. Each Olympian received a Senior Athlete Health Registry Questionnaire with registration materials which requested general medical information. All respondents were then invited to participate in BMD testing via a calcaneal quantitative ultrasound of the heal of their dominant foot. After age, sex, obesity and use of osteoporosis medication were controlled, participation in high-impact sports was a significant predictor of improved BMD compared to those individuals who participated in lower impact sports.

It is clear that not every mature adult can participate in high-impact sports, especially those with hip or knee osteoarthritis. However, this 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," said Wright.

Published bimonthly, Sports Health is a collaborative publication from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM), the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), and the Sports Physical Therapy Section (SPTS). Other organizations participating in the publication include the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine (AOASM). For more information on the publication or to submit a manuscript, visit For more information on this press release, please contact Lisa Weisenberger at lisa(at)aossm(dot)org or 847-292-4900.

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