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Tamara A. Scerpella, Jodi N. Dowthwaite, Nicole M. Gero, Jill A. Kanaley, and Robert J. Ploutz-Snyder

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.

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Brittney Bernardoni, Tamara A. Scerpella, Paula F. Rosenbaum, Jill A. Kanaley, Lindsay N. Raab, Quefeng Li, Sijian Wang, and Jodi N. Dowthwaite

We prospectively evaluated adolescent organized physical activity (PA) as a factor in adult female bone traits. Annual DXA scans accompanied semiannual records of anthropometry, maturity, and PA for 42 participants in this preliminary analysis (criteria: appropriately timed DXA scans at ~1 year premenarche [predictor] and ~5 years postmenarche [dependent variable]). Regression analysis evaluated total adolescent interscan PA and PA over 3 maturity subphases as predictors of young adult bone outcomes: 1) bone mineral content (BMC), geometry, and strength indices at nondominant distal radius and femoral neck; 2) subhead BMC; 3) lumbar spine BMC. Analyses accounted for baseline gynecological age (years pre- or postmenarche), baseline bone status, adult body size and interscan body size change. Gymnastics training was evaluated as a potentially independent predictor, but did not improve models for any outcomes (p < .07). Premenarcheal bone traits were strong predictors of most adult outcomes (semipartial r 2 = .21-0.59, p < .001). Adult 1/3 radius and subhead BMC were predicted by both total PA and PA 1-3 years postmenarche (p < .03). PA 3-5 years postmenarche predicted femoral narrow neck width, endosteal diameter, and buckling ratio (p < .05). Thus, participation in organized physical activity programs throughout middle and high school may reduce lifetime fracture risk in females.