Running Sports = Better Bones For Life
Running your butt off several days weekly, as a child, is good for your bones. And the benefits last a lifetime!
We already knew that vigorous running sports can produce a peak bone mass and bone size at least 50% better than couch potatoes’. Now a study, in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, of elderly individuals has shown that these traits persist long after retirement from sports. Fracture rates and Fracture Risk are also lower in former athletes.
Bones grow bigger if they are stressed during growth. The greatest growth occurs during adolescence. Running sports can produce leg bones up to 50% greater in diameter. The greater the diameter, the stronger a cylinder is for the same amount of material. This is true in bone as well as steel and other materials.
While some small improvements in bone diameter can occur later in life, over 90% occurs by age 18 in girls and 21 in boys. After those ages, the primary effect of exercise is to make the bone cortex (outer wall) thicker. This is worth doing, but not as good as a larger diameter.
Compared to the average teenager’s diet, generous amounts of Calcium, Vitamin D3, Protein, and Multiple Vitamins & Minerals during growth will add thickness to the cortical walls by about 50%. Great nutrition plus vigorous exercise makes bones much stronger than average diet and little exercise.
Now we have confirmed that former athletes still have better bone health, even at my age.
Encourage your children and grandchildren to run. It will build better bones. It will lower their Fracture Risk for a lifetime. Tell them to Take Control Naturally.
Jay Ginther, MD