Bone Development during Adolescence

A new study released from the University of Bristol, UK (2020) clearly indicates the link between adolescent activities and long term bone health.  It indicates that higher levels of moderate to high intensity activity in teenagers produces better bone density outcomes by age 25.

We are seeing declining activity levels in teenagers and this study provides evidence of the importance of being active to maximise bone development.  Bones need stimulation to reach their potential mineral density and the teenage years are the most important time for skeletal development.

This study illustrates that higher levels of moderate-vigorous activity in teenagers produce higher bone mineral density scores, and should provide clear motivation for teenagers and parents to increase activity levels. Skeletal maturity is usually reached in the early 20’s so it’s vital to be active during those teenage years.

The intense growth phase that occurs in teenagers provides a window of opportunity for musculoskeletal development that should not be underestimated by teenagers or parents.  When the bones are growing in length they are also achieving their peak density which will determine their quality for life.  It, therefore, becomes crucial to maximise their growth potential to reduce the risk of early degeneration later in life with conditions such as osteopenia and osteoporosis.

In addition to high intensity loading activity, it is important to consider nutritional intake as a further way to enhance bone health during this time.  Calcium and Vitamin D are essential for bone health.  Eating foods high in calcium throughout the day is the best way to achieve success.  Protein, vegetables, and Omega 3 fats are also vital nutritional components for bone health and should be regularly consumed.

Vitamin D is readily adsorbed via sunlight so some time outdoors is always valuable.  Dietary sources include fatty fish like salmon, cheese, and eggs.

Adolescence is the time to create healthy exercise and nutrition habits that will maximise your long term health.