If you’ve got game on the court, you might also have stronger bones when you’re older. A new study found that sports involving jumping and fast starts and stops could increase bone density in young men.
These types of load-bearing activities put pressure on the bone, and encourage the formation of new bone tissue. Playing sports early in life is important because most people reach their peak bone mass before the age of 30.
Researchers from Sweden measured the bone mass of over 800 men between the ages of 23 and 25, with a follow-up measurement around five years later.
Men who played sports like basketball and volleyball at least four hours a week had a 1.3 percent increase in their hip bone density over the five years. These men also had more growth in one of their leg bones by the end of the study, which was published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.
Men who were sedentary lost 2.1 percent of their hip bone density over the five years.
Low peak bone mass is a risk factor for osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become porous and weak, with fractures starting to occur at age 50. Hip bone density is especially important because hip fractures can lead to serious disability and complications.
If you’re over 30, you can still improve your bone health through exercise. The key message for young men, according to the researchers is: “The more you move, the more bone you build." It’s time to get off the couch and work on your game.