Does long-term swimming participation have a deleterious effect on the adult female skeleton?
ABSTRACT Swimming is a popular activity for Australian women with proven cardiovascular benefits yet lacks the features thought necessary to stimulate positive adaptive changes in bone. Given that peak bone mass is attained close to the end of the second decade, we asked whether swimming was negatively associated with bone mineral density in premenopausal women beyond this age. Bone mass and retrospective physical activity data were gathered from 43 female swimmers and 44 controls (mean ages 40.4 and 43.8 years, respectively). Swimmers were recruited from the Australian Union of Senior Swimmers International while controls were healthy community dwellers with similar lean mass, fat mass, height, weight and body mass index. None of the participants had a history of medical complaints nor use of medications known to affect bone. Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry was used to determine areal bone mineral density at total body, lumbar spine, proximal femur, distal radius and tibia while self-administered questionnaires were used to approximate historical and recent physical activity and calcium intake. Swimmers had averaged over 2 hours of swimming per week for the past 5 years and 1.45 h/week over lifetime with no systematic swimming exposure for controls. Lifetime exposure to weight bearing and impact exercise were similar. There were no intergroup differences for bone mass at any site though controls had higher incidence of low bone mass/osteoporosis. No differences in bone mass were detected between swimmers in the upper and lower quartiles for swim participation for any period. Long-term swim participation did not compromise areal bone mineral density.
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ABSTRACT: Bone is a dynamic tissue that is constantly renewed. The cell populations that participate in this process--the osteoblasts and osteoclasts--are derived from different progenitor pools that are under distinct molecular control mechanisms. Together, these cells form temporary anatomical structures, called basic multicellular units, that execute bone remodeling. A number of stimuli affect bone turnover, including hormones, cytokines, and mechanical stimuli. All of these factors affect the amount and quality of the tissue produced. Mechanical loading is a particularly potent stimulus for bone cells, which improves bone strength and inhibits bone loss with age. Like other materials, bone accumulates damage from loading, but, unlike engineering materials, bone is capable of self-repair. The molecular mechanisms by which bone adapts to loading and repairs damage are starting to become clear. Many of these processes have implications for bone health, disease, and the feasibility of living in weightless environments (e.g., spaceflight).Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering 02/2006; 8:455-98. · 10.95 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: To determine whether female college athletes had increased muscle strength and bone mass in comparison with age-matched nonathletic female subjects and, if so, whether participation in weight-bearing versus non-weight-bearing exercise made a difference. We performed a comparative statistical analysis of the bone mineral density (BMD) of the total body, lumbar spine, and femoral neck, maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), muscle strength, and level of physical activity in 21 runners, 22 swimmers, and 20 control subjects. The study participants were female college students, 18 to 24 years old, who had had more than 8 normal menstrual cycles during the past year. Statistical analyses showed significantly higher VO2max in the two athletic study groups than in the control subjects (P < 0.0001). No significant difference in BMD was noted among the three groups. Total body BMD (r = 0.30; P = 0.02) and femoral neck BMD (r = 0.39; P = 0.002) were positively correlated with weight-bearing activity but not with non-weight-bearing activity. VO2Max (an index of physical fitness) was positively correlated with femoral neck BMD (r = 0.33; P = 0.009) and trochanteric BMD (r = 0.29; P = 0.021). Shoulder muscle strength (determined by isokinetic dynamometry) was positively correlated with total body BMD (r = 0.34; P = 0.007) and lumbar spine BMD (r = 0.28; P = 0.028). Swimmers had higher muscle strength in the back and upper extremities than did runners and control subjects. Hip girdle muscle strength was not significantly different among the three groups. Total body BMD had a positive correlation with percentage of body fat and height. Lumbar spine BMD was higher in subjects who had previously used oral contraceptives. The athletes had a lower percentage of body fat, were less likely to have used oral contraceptives, and had fewer years of normal menses than did the control subjects. Our study shows that (1) total body BMD and femoral neck BMD were significantly higher in the study group that performed weight-bearing exercises than in control subjects, (2) swimming exercise had no effect on BMD, and (3) although swimming is not a bone-building exercise, it can significantly improve shoulder, back, and grip muscle strength.Mayo Clinic Proceedings 12/1998; 73(12):1151-60. · 5.79 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The effects of regular non-weight-bearing (NWB) exercise on bone health are largely unknown. The objective of the study was to determine the effects of participation in NWB sports on bone health in adult male recreational athletes. Male cyclists (NWB; n = 27) and runners (weight-bearing [WB]; n = 16) aged 20 to 59 years were recruited from the community. Whole-body and regional bone mineral content and bone mineral density (BMD), and body composition were assessed using dual x-ray absorptiometry. Bone formation and resorption markers, and hormones were measured in serum. Bone-loading history was estimated from a sports participation history questionnaire. Nutrient intake and current physical activity were estimated from 7-day written logs. The NWB athletes had significantly lower BMD of the whole body and spine than the WB athletes, despite having similar age, weight, body mass index, body composition, hormonal status, current activity level, and nutrient intakes. Sixty-three percent of NWB athletes had osteopenia of the spine or hip, compared with 19% of WB athletes. Cyclists were 7 times more likely to have osteopenia of the spine than runners, controlling for age, body weight, and bone-loading history. There were no group differences in serum markers of bone turnover. Based on the results of this study, current bone loading is an important determinant of whole-body and lumbar spine BMD. Therefore, bone-loading activity should be sustained during adulthood to maintain bone mass.Metabolism 03/2008; 57(2):226-32. · 3.10 Impact Factor