Prospective Ten-Month Exercise Intervention in Premenarcheal Girls: Positive Effects on Bone and Lean Mass

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Abstract

Enhancement of bone mineral acquisition during growth may be a useful preventive strategy against osteoporosis. The aim of this study was to explore the lean mass, strength, and bone mineral response to a 10-month, high-impact, strength-building exercise program in 71 premenarcheal girls, aged 9–10 years. Lean body mass, total body (TB), lumbar spine (LS), proximal femur (PF), and femoral neck (FN) bone mineral were measured using the Hologic QDR 2000+ bone densitometer. Strength was assessed using a grip dynamometer and the Cybex isokinetic dynamometer (Cybex II). At baseline, no significant difference in body composition, pubertal development, calcium intake, physical activity, strength, or bone mineral existed between groups. At completion, there were again no differences in height, total body mass, pubertal development, calcium intake, or external physical activity. In contrast, the exercise group gained significantly more lean mass, less body fat content, greater shoulder, knee and grip strength, and greater TB, LS, PF, and FN BMD (exercise: TB 3.5%, LS 4.8%, PF 4.5%, and FN 12.0%) compared with the controls (controls: TB 1.2%, LS 1.2%, PF 1.3%, and FN 1.7%). TB bone mineral content (BMC), LS BMC, PF BMC, FN BMC, LS bone mineral apparent density (BMAD), and FN bone area also increased at a significantly greater rate in the exercise group compared with the controls. In multiple regression analysis, change in lean mass was the primary determinant of TB, FN, PF, and LS BMD accrual. Although a large proportion of bone mineral accrual in the premenarcheal skeleton was related to growth, an osteogenic effect was associated with exercise. These results suggest that high-impact, strength building exercise is beneficial for premenarcheal strength, lean mass gains, and bone mineral acquisition.

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