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Lack of Activity Weakens Bones in Teenagers

A lack of activity among teenagers can lead to the weakening of their bones, suggests a new study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

If you’re a teenager, you better ‘move it, move it’, if you want your bones to be healthy for your whole lifetime!

The term “lazy bones” may have more truth in it than we think. Inactivity among teens has been linked with weaker bones as opposed to their counterparts who indulge in physical activity, according to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) working in collaboration with the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.

The team analysed data obtained from a group of 309 adolescents: the physical activity and bone strength of the participants were measured for a specific period of 4 years during which the human skeleton undergoes crucial, long-lasting development. This constitutes an important phase
for girls of 10 to 14 years of age, and boys of 12 to 16 years of age when around 36% of their skeleton forms. At this point, the bone is specially responsive to physical activity.

The teens were basically divided into two groups: those who engaged in one hour of physical exercise (ranging from moderate to vigorous) daily, and those who had less than half an hour of exercise per day. 3D X-ray images of their bones were generated for comparison.

The findings show that less active teenagers have weaker bones—their inactivity is preventing their bones from building up strength.

“Kids who are sitting around are not loading their bones in ways that promote bone strength,” says lead author of the study Leigh Gabel.

On the other hand, activities like running, jumping, soccer, and basketball are beneficial to bone strength—a variable measured in bone size, density, and microarchitecture. Bone strength is a protection from fractures, says Gabel.

If you’re a teenager and don’t like physical exercise, here’s a good news for ya: dancing for shorts amounts of time or hopping and skipping or simply running after your dog is enough activity to contribute to your bone strength.

Another interesting finding is that physical activity generated the same response in both sexes, even if boys generally have bigger and stronger bones.

Co-author Heather McKay concludes that teenagers should get away from their screens, and be physically active in order to promote lifelong bone health.

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