Bone mineral density in male masters athletes

The Introductionskeleton

Physical activity and sport are major modifiers of bone mineral density. Research also suggests that the more bone mineral density we develop through sport as kids, the better our chances of lowering bone density as fast as older athletes. In contrast, excessive training can have negative effects on the skeleton as a result of bones being very sensitive to hormones that can be disrupted during periods of heavy training, especially in female athletes. Bone density also decreases with age in both males and females but is rarely looked at in masters athletes. This research suggests veteran sprinters have better bone density than veteran distance runners.

The Research

Polish researchers evaluated bone mineral density (BMD), bone mineral content (BMC), and markers of bone turnover in 26 male competitive masters athletes (40-64 years) representing different training profiles (14 endurance runners and 12 speed-power athletes), and non-sport controls (n = 13). The athletes had been training for approximately 26±10 years and between 6.2 (speed-power) and 7.3 (endurance) hours per week.

The Results

Adjusted total and regional BMD and BMC were significantly greater in all measured regions in speed-power athletes than in endurance athletes and control subjects, but were not significantly different between endurance athletes and controls. No differences in bone formation, bone loss (resorption) and blood concentrations of hormones involved with bone loss and formation were observed between the three groups.

The So What?

Weight-bearing exercise during childhood and youth and maintaining training into later life may be are important contributors to BMD and BMC in middle age and older athletes. It also appears that male veteran sprint and power athletes have an advantage in preventing osteoporosis as a result of having higher BMD and BMC than endurance athletes.

Nowak, A. and others (2010). Bone mineral density and bone turnover in male masters athletes aged 40-64. Aging Male, 13(2): 133-141.

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