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A Comparison of Bone Mineral Density in Adolescent Female Swimmers, Soccer Players, and Weight Lifters

Bellew, James W. PT, EdD; Gehrig, Laura MD, FACOS

doi: 10.1097/01.pep.0000200952.63544.16
Research Report

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.

The findings from this study suggest that participation in sports such as soccer, which entails significant skeletal loading, may enhance bone mineral density during adolescence.

Departments of Physical Therapy (J.W.B.) and Orthopedics (L.G.), Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Osteoporosis Center (J.W.B., L.G.), Louisiana State University, Shreveport, LA

Address correspondence to: James W. Bellew, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, 1501 Kings Highway, Room 310, Allied Health Building, Shreveport, LA 71130. Email:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.