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Vigorous exercise linked with stronger hip bones in children

May 12, 2010 | 12:11 pm

Exercise doesn't just help kids improve their cardiovascular function, keep their weight down and make them more mentally acute -- it may also strengthen bones, according to a new study.

L0g348nc Researchers from Southampton and Cambridge universities in Britain gave DXA scans to about 200 6-year-olds to test their bone mass, specifically looking at the children's hip and thigh bones.

The children were also asked how much physical activity they'd gotten for seven consecutive days.

After looking at the data, researchers found a link between higher amounts of vigorous activity and greater hip bone strength, finding changes in both shape and mineral density volume. This held true after adjusting for factors such as lifestyle, diet and the size of the child.

Activities that incorporate kicking or landing with force have also been linked with higher bone density in children. A 2004 study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that boys age 10 to 13 who played soccer three hours a week over three years had 33% more total bone mineral density than boys who did various activities such as running.

The current study was presented recently at the World Congress on Osteoporosis in Florence, Italy.

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo: Children play in South Africa. Photo credit: Paul White / Associated Press