Differential effects of swimming versus weight-bearing activity on bone mineral status of eumenorrheic athletes

J Bone Miner Res. 1995 Apr;10(4):586-93. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.5650100411.


To examine the role of skeletal loading patterns on bone mineral density (BMD), we compared eumenorrheic athletes who chronically trained by opposite forms of skeletal loading, intensive weight-bearing activity (gymnastics, n = 13), and nonweightbearing activity (swimming, n = 26) and 19 nonathletic controls. BMD (g/cm2) of the lumbar spine, femoral neck, trochanter, and whole body was assessed by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Subregion analysis of the whole body scan permitted BMD evaluation of diverse regions. Swimmers were taller (p = 0.0001), heavier (p < 0.005), and had a greater bone-free lean mass (p < 0.001) than gymnasts and nonathletic controls. When adjusted for body surface area, there was no difference in lean mass between swimmers and gymnasts, and both were higher than controls (p < 0.01). Gymnasts had a lower (p < 0.005) fat mass than swimmers and controls. There were no group differences for spine or whole body BMD, but gymnasts had higher spine BMD corrected for body mass than either swimmers or controls. Gymnasts (1.117 +/- 0.110) had higher femoral neck BMD than controls (0.974 +/- 0.105), who were higher than swimmers (0.875 +/- 0.105) (p = 0.0001). This result still applied when BMD was normalized for body weight and bone size. Trochanter BMD of gymnasts (0.898 +/- 0.130) was also higher than controls (0.784 +/- 0.097) and swimmers (0.748 +/- 0.085) (p = 0.0002), and remained higher when corrected for body mass.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Female
  • Femur / physiology
  • Femur Neck / physiology
  • Gymnastics*
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology
  • Male
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Software
  • Swimming*
  • Weight-Bearing*