Playing Soccer Builds Young Girl's Bones Best

You may recall research I posted two years ago about the benefits of exercise for children beyond reducing their TV time and obesity risks. Mechanical loading -- the child-like art of running and jumping -- may be the best way to strengthen their young bones.

Nothing helps young girls build strong bones better than the running and jumping associated with playing soccer, certainly in comparison to weight-lifting and swimming. LSU scientists put their hypothesis to the test by measuring and comparing the bone mineral density (BMD) in 16 adolescent soccer players, 29 swimmers and 19 weight-lifters.

Soccer and weight-lifting were improvements over swimming in terms of BMD, but the former was definitely the better choice. Why? Adolescent girls who played soccer, a weight-bearing sport that places repetitive impact on a player's skeleton, had higher than normal BMD values compared to the average adult woman. On the other hand, swimmers had lower than adult norms and weight-lifting brought young women only up to adult norms, but didn't exceed them.

Besides the proper daily exercise, kids can boost their bone health by getting the vitamin D their young bodies need by ensuring they get the right amount of sunshine daily and right-sizing their diets to include more omega-3 fats.

Pediatric Physical Therapy, Vol. 18. No. 1, Spring 2006: 19-22

Yahoo News April 12, 2006

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