Summary: In a highly representative sample of young adult Swedish men (n = 2,384), we demonstrate that physical activity during childhood and adolescence was the strongest predictor of calcaneal bone mineral density (BMD), and that peak bone mass was reached at this site at the age of 18 years.
Introduction: The purpose of the present study was to determine if physical activity during growth is associated with peak calcaneal BMD in a large, highly representative cohort of young Swedish men.
Methods: In this study, 2,384 men, 18.3 +/- 0.3 (mean +/- SD) years old, were included from a population attending the mandatory tests for selection to compulsory military service in Sweden. BMD (g/cm(2)) of the calcaneus was measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Training habits were investigated using a standardized questionnaire.
Results: Regression analysis (with age, height, weight, smoking, and calcium intake as covariates) demonstrated that history of regular physical activity was the strongest predictor and could explain 10.1% of the variation in BMD (standardized beta = 0.31, p < 0.001). A regression model with quadratic age effect revealed maximum BMD at 18.4 years.
Conclusions: We found that history of physical activity during growth was the strongest predictor of peak calcaneal BMD in young men.