High femoral bone mineral density accretion in prepubertal soccer players

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Oct;36(10):1789-95. doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000142311.75866.d7.


Purpose: To determine the effect of physical activity on bone mineral accrual during growth in prepuberal boys.

Methods: Seventeen soccer players and 11 matched (physically active) control boys (Tanner 1-2, at the start of the study) were followed over a 3-yr period. Bone mineral content (BMC) and a real density (BMD) was measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. The maximal positive mechanical impulse (CJipos) and height jumped (Hj) during countermovement vertical jumps were assessed with a plate force. Additionally, 30-m running speed test (T30), 300-m run test (AC), and 20-m shuttle run test (MAP) were performed.

Results: The soccer players attained better results in MAP and AC than the controls (P < 0.05). At the end of the follow-up, the controls increased their percentage of body fat in 11 units (P < 0.05) whereas it remained unchanged in the soccer players. Lean body mass increased with growth but more in the soccer players than in the controls (P < 0.05). The soccer players exhibited greater BMC in the legs and greater BMD in all bone-loaded regions at the end of the study (P < 0.05). During these 3 yr, the soccer players gained twice as much femoral neck and intertrochanteric BMC than the control group (P < 0.05) and increased their femoral neck BMD by 10% and their mean hip BMD by a third more than the control group (both P < 0.05). Multiple regression analysis showed that the improvement in T30 and CJipos has predictive value for the enhancement of bone mass in growing boys.

Conclusion: Long-term soccer participation, starting at a prepubertal age, results in greater improvement of physical fitness, greater acquisition of bone mass and a lower accumulation of body fat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Anaerobic Threshold / physiology
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Exercise Test
  • Femur Neck / physiology
  • Hip / physiology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology
  • Male
  • Osteogenesis / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Puberty / physiology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Running / physiology
  • Soccer / physiology*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / physiology