Osteoporosis, the gradual weakening of the bones, has always been associated with old age. However, a new study from Australia has proven otherwise.
The results revealed that osteoporosis does not necessarily come with age as risk factors can start as early as three years old specifically in activity levels.
“If we want to tackle osteoporosis we need to start in childhood – that’s where the disease has its origins,” explains Duckham.
The study was conducted over a period of 10 years where physical activity levels of children age 10 to 13 years old were observed and tested.
Findings showed that those who spent the most time sitting down had 9-percent lower bone strength in the lower leg. This speeds up the chances of the early onset of osteoporosis.
“Inactivity in childhood can also set the pattern for the rest of a child’s life – if you’re physically inactive at the age of three, then you’re likely to be inactive at six and throughout your lifetime,” said Dr Rachel Duckham, a research fellow at Deakin University’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition.
“The more bone we lay down in childhood and adolescence, the stronger our bones will be later in life,” explains Duckham whose earlier research at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada found that the most physically active kids become the adults with the strongest bones – regardless of how physically active they are as adults.
With this, the doctor encourages parents to enroll children in active sports, or at least follow at-home exercise such as hopping for 50 to 100 times a day.
“We need to encourage children to take part in sports like gymnastics, soccer, and basketball for instance, or activities like jumping, hopping and skipping […] But I think parents also need to be more aware of the kind of activities that build bone – there is an emphasis on cardiovascular fitness and getting children moving which is great, but just walking isn’t going to help build strong bones for life,” she ended.
Lifestyle among children has dramatically changed in the past few years with the arrival of smartphones. While it is a good activity for your child, pairing it with exercise or sports can take a positive toll on their health in the long run.
Photo from Andrew Branch // Stocksnap.io