Study Shows That Stronger Children Have Healthier Bones

Study Shows That Stronger Children Have Healthier Bones. The muscle-bone correlation was found to be stronger for girls than it was for boys.

By Brooks Hays, United Press International

SOUTHAMPTON, England, April 14 (UPI) —In studying bone development in growing children, scientists at the University of Southampton found greater muscle mass is linked with healthier bones. Fat, on the other hand, was found to be unrelated to bone development.  Researchers at Southampton’s Medical Research Council compared muscle mass and bone density data collected as a part of the Southampton Women’s Survey. Measurements from 200 children — including imaging to determine bone mineral density, shape and size of the tibia, as well as overall skeletal composition — were recorded shortly after birth. Followup measurements were taken as the participants turned six or seven years old.

Scientists found

a significant correlation between greater muscle mass and stronger,

sturdier bones.

“Bone strength and size is important because they are significant factors in long term osteoporosis and fracture risk,” Dr. Rebecca Moon, the study’s lead researcher, explained in a press release. “A ten per cent increase in peak bone mass will delay the onset of osteoporosis by 13 years. These findings point to the importance of early childhood physical activity to optimize muscle and bone growth.”

The muscle-bone correlation was found to be stronger for girls than it was for boys, even after accounting for age and hormonal differences (girls typically hit puberty earlier than their male peers).

“This is a wonderful example of a biomedical discovery made by combining state of the art imaging methodologies with the world leading population science, for which Southampton has an established international reputation,” said study co-author Cyrus Cooper, the director of the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit.  The new researcher was published this week in the science journal Bone.

The new evidence emphasizes the importance of exercise for young children. Strength training may even be beneficial.

“During childhood, kids improve their body awareness, control and balance through active play,” the Mayo Clinic explains on their website. “As early as age 7 or 8, however, strength training can become a valuable part of an overall fitness plan.”