This 8-year controlled, follow-up study in 66 Swedish soccer women evaluated the effect of training and reduced training on BMD. The players who retired during the follow-up lost BMD in the femoral neck, whereas the controls did not.
Introduction: Physical activity during adolescence increases BMD, but whether the benefits are retained with reduced activity is controversial.
Materials and Methods: At baseline, DXA evaluated BMD in 48 active female soccer players with a mean age of 18.2 ± 4.4 (SD) years, in 18 former female soccer players with a mean age of 43.2 ± 6.2 years and retired for a mean of 9.4 ± 5.3 years, and in 64 age- and sex-matched controls. The soccer women were remeasured after a mean of 8.0 ± 0.3 years, when 35 of the players active at baseline had been retired for a mean of 5.3 ± 1.6 years.
Results and Conclusions: The players still active at follow-up had a higher BMD at baseline than the matched controls in the femoral neck (FN; 1.13 ± 0.19 versus 1.00 ± 0.13 g/cm2; p = 0.02). The yearly gain in BMD during follow-up was higher in the active players than in the controls in the leg (0.015 ± 0.006 versus 0.007 ± 0.012 g/cm2, p = 0.04). The soccer players who retired during follow-up had a higher BMD at baseline than the matched controls in the FN (1.13 ± 0.13 versus 1.04 ± 0.13 g/cm2; p = 0.005). The players that retired during follow-up lost BMD, whereas the controls gained BMD during the study period in the FN (−0.007 ± 0.01 versus 0.003 ± 0.02 g/cm2 yearly; p = 0.01). The soccer players already retired at baseline had higher BMD at study start than the matched controls in the leg (1.26 ± 0.09 versus 1.18 ± 0.10 g/cm2; p = 0.01). The former players who were retired at study start lost BMD, whereas the controls gained BMD during the study period in the trochanter (−0.006 ± 0.01 versus 0.004 ± 0.014 g/cm2 yearly; p = 0.01). This study shows that, in girls, intense exercise after puberty is associated with higher accrual of BMD, and decreased physical activity in both the short-term and long-term perspective is associated with higher BMD loss than in controls.