Mechanical loading during childhood and adolescence may yield skeletal benefits that persist beyond activity cessation and menarche. At 1 year pre- and 2 years post-menarche, nondominant forearm areal bone mineral density (aBMD), bone mineral content (BMC) and projected area (area) were compared in gymnasts (n = 9), ex-gymnasts (n = 8) and nongymnasts (n = 13). At both observations, gymnasts and ex-gymnasts had higher forearm aBMD, BMC and area than nongymnasts. gymnasts had higher postmenarcheal means than ex-gymnasts for all three parameters. Childhood mechanical loading yields skeletal advantages that persist at least 24 months after loading cessation and menarche. Continued postmenarcheal loading yields additional benefit.
Scerpella, Dowthwaite, and Gero are with the Dept. of Orthopedic Surgery, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY. Kanaley is with the Dept. of Nutrition and Exercise Science, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO. Ploutz-Snyder is with the Universities Space Research Association, NASA, Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX.