Role of physical activity in the development of skeletal mass in children

J Bone Miner Res. 1991 Nov;6(11):1227-33. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.5650061113.


A group of 118 children, aged 5.3-14 years, were enrolled in a prospective study of calcium supplementation and bone mass. At entry to the study, questionnaires regarding the child's usual physical activity were administered to the children and their mothers. Repeated activity assessments at 6 month intervals indicated good within-person agreement for total activity and for most individual activities. Consistent positive associations were observed between bone mineral densities (BMD) in the radius, spine, and hip and most activities. A summary measure (total hours of weight-bearing activity) was significantly related to BMD in the radius and hip, independently of age or gender effects. Self-reported sports and play activities were associated with BMD, but neither time spent watching television nor hours of physical education classes were associated either positively or negatively with skeletal mass. These data suggest that important increments in skeletal mass may result from physical activity during childhood.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Bone Development*
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Characteristics


  • Calcium, Dietary