Physical activity and strength of the femoral neck during the adolescent growth spurt: A longitudinal analysis

Mark R. Forwood, Adam D. Baxter-Jones, Thomas J. Beck, Robert L. Mirwald, Alf Howard, Donald A. Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Loading of the femoral neck (FN) is dominated by bending and compressive stresses. We hypothesize that adaptation of the FN to physical activity would be manifested in the cross-sectional area (CSA) and section modulus (Z) of bone, indices of axial and bending strength, respectively. We investigated the influence of physical activity on bone strength during adolescence using 7 years of longitudinal data from 109 boys and 121 girls from the Saskatchewan Paediatric Bone and Mineral Accrual Study (PBMAS). Physical activity data (PAC-Q physical activity inventory) and anthropometric measurements were taken every 6 months and DXA bone scans were measured annually (Hologic QDR2000, array mode). We applied hip structural analysis to derive strength and geometric indices of the femoral neck using DXA scans. To control for maturation, we determined a biological maturity age defined as years from age at peak height velocity (APHV). To account for the repeated measures within individual nature of longitudinal data, multilevel random effects regression analyses were used to analyze the data. When biological maturity age and body size (height and weight) were controlled, in both boys and girls, physical activity was a significant positive independent predictor of CSA and Z of the narrow region of the femoral neck (P < 0.05). There was no independent effect of physical activity on the subperiosteal width of the femoral neck. When leg length and leg lean mass were introduced into the random effects models to control for size and muscle mass of the leg (instead of height and weight), all significant effects of physical activity disappeared. Even among adolescents engaged in normal levels of physical activity, the statistically significant relationship between physical activity and indices of bone strength demonstrate that modifiable lifestyle factors like exercise play an important role in optimizing bone strength during the growing years. Physical activity differences were explained by the interdependence between activity and lean mass considerations. Physical activity is important for optimal development of bone strength.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)576-583
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Bone densitometry
  • Bone strength
  • Exercise
  • Growth and development
  • Longitudinal studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology


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