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Adolescence: A Key Time for Building Bones

Moderate to vigorous physical activity is linked to adult bone health.

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Adolescent bone health

Teens who stay fit with vigorous activity are laying the foundation for a lifetime of bone health. Study findings in JAMA Network Open  (2020; 3 [8], 2013463) show that teens who were moderately to vigorously active at ages 12–16 had higher bone mineral density in the hip bone at 25 than teens who participated in only light-intensity exercise. Peak bone mass occurs in young adulthood and is a risk marker of fractures and osteoporosis in later life.

University of Bristol researchers in England analyzed data from 2,569 young people who underwent accelerometer assessments at 12, 14, 16 and/or 25 years of age, followed up by four repeat assessments. Lead study author Ahmad Elhakeem, PhD, senior research associate in epidemiology, said, “The results highlight adolescence as a potentially important period for bone development . . . it is really important to support young people to remain active at this age.”

See also: Having the Bone Health Talk With Clients


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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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