Gymnastic training improves bone health in girls

May 6th, 2010 - 3:42 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 6 (IANS) Long-term rhythmic gymnastics exerts positive effects on bone density among adolescent girls, a new study shows.
Symeon Tournis, who led the study at the University of Athens in Greece, said there is an association between weight-bearing exercise and increased bone density and bone strength.

“Our findings show that training in rhythmic gymnastics significantly improves bone health in adolescent girls,” Tournis said.

Researchers evaluated the bone health of 49 girls aged between nine and 13 years. Twenty six of the girls were elite rhythmic gymnasts who had trained for at least two years, and 23 girls had only physical education related activity.

The researchers measured bone density, bone mineral content and cortical thickness (the outer shell of the bone) in each girl and found that girls who had undergone intensive rhythmic gymnastic training had increased cortical thickness and bone strength.

“There are a small number of studies that have evaluated the effect of weight-bearing exercise on bone mineral density and bone geometry,” Tournis said.

“However, to our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the effect of long-term elite rhythmic gymnastics on bone geometry using peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) along with detailed evaluation of bone turnover markers,” he said.

The pQCT measures bone mineral density and cross sectional bone dimensions at peripheral skeletal sites such as the radius and tibia, a University of Athens release said.

Bone density (or bone mineral density) is a medical term referring to the amount of matter per square centimetre of bones.

The findings are slated for publication in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM)

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