Purpose: The study was designed to examine the effect of sports of varying skeletal loading on bone density in adolescent female athletes.
Methods: Bone mineral densities of female swimmers, soccer players, and weight lifters were examined. Between-sport comparisons were made using a one-way analysis of covariance with age and body mass index as covariates and group bone mass density (BMD) was compared to the World Health Organization's (WHO) normative values for adult females.
Results: BMD was significantly greater in the soccer group compared to the weight lifting (p = 0.025) and swimming groups (p = 0.001) with no difference between weight-lifting and swimming groups (p = 0.209). Compared to normative data from the WHO, soccer was the only sport whose participants' BMDs were significantly greater than adult norms (p = 0.003), while those of the swimmers were significantly less (p < 0.001) than adult females, and the weight lifters were not different (p = 0.103).
Conclusions: Participation in sports such as soccer or weight lifting with significant skeletal loading may enhance BMD in adolescent females.