A recent US study has shown that high impact physical activity may help to strengthen bone density in older exercisers.

Data gathered from participants in the 2005 National Senior Games in Pittsburgh was analysed for the study. The male and female athletes were aged between 50 and 93, and 560 of them competed in high-impact sports including track and field, volleyball, basketball and triathlon.

Using ultrasound scans, the researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre discovered that the bone mineral density of those who participated in high-impact sports was greater than in their low-impact participating colleagues.

Dr Vonda Wright, an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre said, ‘Our study represents the largest sample of bone mineral density data in mature athletes to date. My colleagues and I were surprised to see that active adult participation in the high-impact sports had such a positive influence on bone health, even in the oldest athletes’.

Wright said that although osteoarthritis and other age-related conditions could prevent older people from taking part in high-impact sports, the study findings suggested that high-impact sports may significantly contribute to healthy bone ageing.

‘With a multi-part approach and the appropriate use of high-impact exercises, individuals may be able to make greater strides against bone loss than the current treatment strategies imply’ she said.

Source: Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach