How exercising young builds strong bones later
Good news for all the young athletes out there. Not only are they building healthy hearts and minds, they’re building bigger, stronger bones that will benefit them throughout their lives!
A study was recently done on Major League Baseball (MLB) players that examined their throwing and non-throwing arms in different points throughout their careers.
This study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by associate Professor Stuart Warden at Indiana University-Purdue University. What they found was that half of the bone size and one-third of the bone strength built at a young age persisted well into the late years of these players’ lives.
Professor Warden says, “This is an impressive level of maintenance, particularly considering that the baseball players had not thrown, or in other words, exercised, in over 50 years and were aged in their mid-80s.”
Warden explains that bones build mass in response to increase in muscle from exercise. Researchers said that because we lose bone density as we age, the greater the density of the bone, the stronger our bones will remain, as people inevitably lose some internal bone mass as we get older.
The study also showed that those MLB players who continued to exercise after retiring prevented aging bone loss. The research suggests that exercising into old age maintains muscle strength and bone density, which can help to prevent dangerous falls.
Professor Warden recommends that children exercise at least one hour a day and include weight-bearing exercises to help strengthen the skeleton from different angles.
Christine Cornell, group fitness coordinator at Advocate Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill., agrees.
“It’s important to build strong bones during youth because you build the majority of your bone by your early 20’s,” she says. “We can prevent osteoporosis in older age by increasing the amount of high intensity training during youth as well as variety in forms of exercise.”
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