CORVALLIS, Ore.- - A new study at Oregon State University hasfound that children as young as 7-8 years old can significantlyincrease bone mass through a brief, yet specific weekly exerciseregimen that may help them "bank" extra bone to fightosteoporosis in adulthood.
The critical component, researchers say, is for youth to engagein "impact loading" exercises that boost bone mass in a targetedarea - especially the hips.
In the OSU study, youth volunteers who were asked to jump offtwo-foot boxes 100 times, three times a week for seven monthshad 5 percent more bone mass than a control group of classmateswho used the time for stretching and non-impact exercise.
"A 5 percent increase may not sound like a lot, but ittranslates into a 30 percent decrease in the risk of a hipfracture at adulthood," said Christine Snow, director of theBone Research Laboratory at Oregon State University andprincipal investigator in the study.
The findings are the result of a pilot study done last year andshould be considered preliminary, Snow cautioned. She hasreceived a major three-year, $400,000 grant from the NationalInstitutes of Health to follow up that pilot study with a morecomprehensive research project that will begin this fall.
The research is significant, Snow said, because there was onlyone published study in the world that details how children canincrease bone mass. That study, conducted in Australia, showedsimilar gains of 5-8 percent in bone mass, but it requiredchildren! to maintain a rigid schedule of weight lifting andjumping activities for 50 minutes, three times a week for 10months. And it was unclear whether the weight lifting or thejumping improved the bone mass.
"Our study is particularly valuable because it only takes 10minutes to do the 100 jumps - and you can easily incorporatethat into a school's physical education schedule three times aweek," Snow said. "We also used the opportunity to teach thekids about their skeletal systems, the importance of exercise,fitness and nutrition."
During the last 10 years, OSU has developed a nationallyrecognized program in the study of bone research and exercise.Much of the research has pointed to the same conclusion - thatthe best way to increase bone mass in the hips is throughhigh-impact exercise.
This latest study by Snow and OSU master's student Robyn Fuchswas even more specific - looking at increasing bone mass inchildren, especially in the hard-to-influence hip area. Eachyear, some 300,000 elderly Americans suffer hip fractures,leading to hospitalization, incapacitation and even death.
Studies nationally have found that bone mass decreases with ageand can only be slowed at adulthood, not reversed.
"Over the last five years, it has become increasingly evidentthat the best method for preventing osteoporosis is to put bonemass in the bank at childhood, and maintain as much as you canthrough your adult years," Snow said. "Early intervention is notas evident for other chronic diseases."
The National Institutes of Health grant will enable Snow torecruit 300 to 400 children for a more comprehensive look at theeffects of the jumping protocol on bone density. The OSUresearchers hope to determine if the young volunteers maintainor lose that 5 percent edge when the jumping activity ceases,and to discover whether there is any increase in bone mass inthe spine.
By Mark Floyd, 541-737-0788 INTERNET:Mark.Floyd@orst.edu
The above story is based on materials provided by Oregon State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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