Bouts of Vigorous Physical Activity and Bone Strength Accrual During Adolescence

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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Purpose: We examined the influence of vigorous physical activity (VPA) bout frequency on bone strength accrual across adolescence, independent of total volume of VPA. Methods: We measured VPA (6 metabolic equivalents; total volume and bout frequency <5 min in duration) annually using waist-worn accelerometers (ActiGraph GT1M) in 309 adolescents (9–20 y at baseline: 99, <13 y; 126, 13–18 y; 84, >18 y) over a maximum of 4 years. We applied finite element analysis to high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography scans of the distal tibia (8% site) to estimate bone strength (failure load; F.Load, Newtons). We fit a mixed effects model with maturity offset (years from age at peak height velocity) as a random effect and sex, ethnicity, tibia length, lean body mass, and VPA (volume and bout frequency) as fixed effects. Results: VPA volume and bout frequency were positively associated with F.Load across adolescence; however, VPA volume did not predict F.Load once VPA bout frequency was included in the model. Participants in the upper quartile of VPA bout frequency (∼33 bouts per day) had 10% (500 N) greater F.Load across adolescence compared with participants in the lowest quartile (∼9 bouts per day; P = .012). Each additional daily bout of VPA was associated with 21 N greater F.Load, independent of total volume of VPA. Conclusion: Frequent VPA should be promoted for optimal bone strength accrual.

Gabel and McKay are with the Dept. of Orthopaedics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Macdonald and McKay are with the Dept. of Family Practice, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Nettlefold is with University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Gabel, Macdonald, Nettlefold, and McKay are also with the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Address author correspondence to Heather A. McKay at heather.mckay@ubc.ca.
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