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For Stronger Bones In Men: Some Sports Are Better Than Others

A five-year study conducted by the Centre for Bone and Arthritis Research at the Sahlgrenska Academy’s Institute of Medicine of University of Gothenburg in Sweden has clearly demonstrated that when it comes to protecting men’s bones, some sports have an edge over others. And which are the superior sports? Turns out that load-bearing sport such as basketball, volleyball, jogging, and soccer come out with flying colors in reducing a man’s risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. (1)

The research observed the exercise habits and measured the areal bone mineral density of 800 healthy, young men ranging from the age of 18 to 20 years. Then five years on, they were approached again for measurements on bone mineral density as well as level and type of physical activity. The researchers found that in the duration, those of the men who were engaged in weight or load-bearing workouts and activities such as basketball or soccer at the beginning) of the study as well as those who had stepped up the quantum of exercise (i.e. either playing the sports more number of days of the week or playing them longer hours the same number of days) were building more bones than those who were not as active.

The study which along with it’s findings was published in the May issue of Journal of Bone and Mineral Research suggested that even as much as spending fours every week playing a load-bearing sport helped the men increase their hip bone density by as much as 1.3% over the period of the study. This was especially critical when viewed against the discouraging data of sedentary men who lost as much as 2.1% of their hip bone density over the same period. This clearly chalked out the way forward that for this group of sedentary men, the thinning of hip bones could lead to possible hip fractures as they age and in turn to potential disability and other living complexities.

As per Mattias Lorentzon, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Gothenburg and also one of the lead authors of the study, “Men who increased their load-bearing activity from age 19 to 24 not only developed more bone, but also had larger bones compared to men who were sedentary during the same period. Osteoporosis actually seems to get its start by age 25 when bones start to lose tissue. So this study sends an important message to young men: The more you move the more bone you build.” (2)

It is believed that bigger bones or a heavier bone structure protects a person from osteoporosis in later life as the possibility of it thinning out fast is slim or it becoming porous is also put off. Dr. Lorentzon found some other sports besides basketball, volleyball and soccer interesting in terms of bone mass building which he recommends such as tennis and squash. He explained that both these sports involved jumping, frequent starts and stops which put load on the body bone structure and urge the body to form new osteoblasts or bone forming cells. (3)


  1. Some Sports May Help Protect Men’s Bones;; Web May 2012;
  2. Study: Men Who Do Load-Bearing Exercise In Early 20s May Be Shielded From Osteoporosis; ASBMR; Web May 2012;
  3. Some Sports May Help Protect Men’s Bones; MedlinePlus; Web May 2012;
  4. Increased physical activity is associated with enhanced development of peak bone mass in men: A five-year longitudinal study; Journal Of Bone and Mineral Research (JBMR) via Wiley Online Library; Web May 2012;

Author: Monica Straith, BS

Monica is the PR and Outreach Manager and Fitness Lead at AlgaeCal. She’s an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Specialist, and has a B.S. and B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she played varsity soccer for four years. Monica pulls from her experience in athletics and health to contribute to AlgaeCal and has also been featured on myfitnesspal blog, Prevention, and Huffington Post.


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