According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is a major risk factor for mortality and morbidity. This is worrisome since more than 80 percent of adolescents worldwide do not get enough physical activity. It is especially important to keep active during puberty since the bones and muscles are still developing during this period of life. Previous studies have shown that the benefits of physical activity and weight-bearing exercise on bone strength are optimized during adolescence.
Instead of doing physical activities, young adults spend most of their time doing sedentary activities. Prior research has shown that sedentary activities are linked to poor health but there was not enough evidence to establish if this was due solely to inactivity or if there was just an offset of benefits from physical activity.
In this study, which was published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, the researchers looked at the effects of physical activity and sedentary activities on the bone strength of the tibia and radius in participants aged nine to 20 years old. The researchers evaluated bone strength based on parameters like bone geometry, density, and microarchitecture since these are affected by mechanical stimuli during growth.
Results of the study showed that the effects of physical and sedentary activities on bone strength varied depending on the person's maturity. The researchers determined that both activities had optimum effects on bone development during early and mid-puberty since at this period there is higher bone turnover. For physical activity, the observed results were beneficial to bone strength. Meanwhile, sedentary activities positively affected bone microarchitecture but were detrimental to bone geometry. Researchers attributed the positive effects on microarchitecture to changes in bone tissue distribution and mineralization that aim to maximize bone strength in smaller bones of sedentary people. Aside from this, researchers also observed that physical activity can override the detrimental effects of inactivity.
Overall, these results prove that physical activity is beneficial to bone strength while sedentary activities have both positive and negative effects on bone development. The results of the study also provide sufficient evidence for the ability of physical activity to offset the detrimental effects of sedimentary time. Lastly, the researchers observed that these all of these effects were dependent on maturity and were maximized during early and mid-puberty, which is why it is important for adolescents to go out and play. (Related: Why gym class matters: Playing ball builds bones, balance and muscle strength in schoolchildren.)
Adolescents are not the only ones that should work on improving their bone strength. Even adults should take extra measures to keep their bones healthy since after 30 years old the bones will start to deteriorate. Some ways to improve bone strength include the following:
Learn more about the different health benefits of regular exercise by visiting Health.news today.