Study: Men who do load-bearing exercise in early 20s may be shielded from osteoporosis

Sara Knoll
EurekAlert

Without intervention, 1 in 5 men develop fractures related to osteoporosis in old age.

Washington, DC, May 4, 2012 – Young men who play volleyball, basketball or other load-bearing sports for four hours a week or more increase bone mass and might gain protection from developing osteoporosis later in life, according to a new study in the May issue of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

The study, the largest scale investigation of its kind, discovered that young men who actively resisted the urge to adopt a “couch-potato” lifestyle in their late twenties seemed to gain the biggest bone benefit. “Men who increased their load-bearing activity from age 19 to 24 not only developed more bone, but also had larger bones compared to men who were sedentary during the same period,” said senior study author Mattias Lorentzon, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Gothenburg, in Sweden.

Bigger bones with more mass are thought to offer a shield against osteoporosis, a disease that affects men and women alike, in which bones become porous and weak over time and start to fracture by age 50 or later. “Osteoporosis actually seems to get its start by age 25 when bones start to lose tissue. So this study sends an important message to young men,” Lorentzon said. “The more you move, the more bone you build.”

Sports that involve jumping or fast starts and stops and increase the load put on the body’s bones seemed most associated with the enhanced protection for men. Lorentzon and his colleagues found that basketball and volleyball seemed the best kinds of activities for building bone mass, followed by soccer and tennis. Such load-bearing sports seem to push the body to form new bone tissue. Activities that do not put an increased load on the bones, like swimming and bicycling did not seem associated with the building of bigger bones or more bone mass, even though they offer other health benefits.

Read More: Study: Men who do load-bearing exercise in early 20s may be shielded from osteoporosis

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