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Soccer's a Winner for Building Bone Health in Girls
Date:5/8/2008

All 'impact' sports may help to prevent osteoporosis later in life, research suggests

WEDNESDAY, May 7 (HealthDay News) -- Want your teenage daughter to have strong bones? Steer her to soccer or other impact sports, experts suggest, and you may help her prevent low bone density later in life.

Sports such as soccer -- with the combination of weight-bearing exercise and repetitive, "impact-loading" from jumping and running -- have been shown to build bone mineral density in adolescent girls better than some other activities.

Building bone density during the teen years is considered crucial for healthy bone development, helping to ward off osteoporosis, the disease that causes bones to become brittle and break later on in life. Peak bone mass is typically achieved by age 30, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

"It's those years of adolescence, and early teens to late 20s, that are most important" for bone building," said James W. Bellew, an associate professor of physical therapy at Louisiana State University Health Science Center-Shreveport.

Bellew and his colleagues compared the effects of soccer, weight-lifting and swimming on the bone mineral density of teen and pre-teen girls, ages 10 to 17. The groups included 29 swimmers, 16 soccer players and 19 weightlifters.

Soccer players had the best bone density, followed by the weight-lifters and then the swimmers. Bellew's team compared the groups' average bone mineral density to what is considered the norm for a 25-year-old woman.

Soccer players' bone density was significantly greater than the norm, and the weight-lifting group was equal to the norm. The swimmers were lower than the norm. Still, that's not cause for alarm, he said, because the girls were still in their teens and have time to accrue bone density.

Soccer and other "impact" sports expose the body to repeated impact, and that activity is thought hel
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