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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.