Turns out, participation in organised sports during childhood and adolescence can have long-term benefits for bone mass at 20 years of age.
A recent study, performed at Curtin University, followed 984 children into young adulthood.
Males who were 'consistent sport participators' from ages 5-17 years had significantly greater whole body and leg bone mineral content at age 20 years than those who dropped out of sport, whereas males who 'joined sports' had significantly greater leg bone mineral content than those who dropped out of sports.
On the other hand, females who were 'consistent sports participators' had significantly greater leg bone mineral content at 20 years of age than those who dropped out.
The study is published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.
"Targeted messages to young males and females that discourage dropping out of the sports and encourage joining sports--even in adolescence--are important for the benefits of skeletal health," said lead author Dr. Joanne McVeigh.
Because attainment of optimal peak bone mass in young adulthood is protective against osteoporosis later in life, participation in organised sports may have long-term skeletal benefits.