Retired collegiate artistic gymnasts retain high bone mass
Pollock, Norman Kenneth
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Fifteen years after cessation of the sport, we found that retired collegiate artistic gymnasts2(GYM; n=18) had higher measures of areal bone mineral density (aBMD; g/cm) at all skeletalsites compared to nongymnast controls (CON; n=15) of similar age (years), height (cm) andbody weight (BW; kg). It is unknown, however, if the aBMD differences in GYM and CONobserved at that time are maintained into the years approaching menopause. A nine-year follow-up study was conducted to compare aBMD in GYM (n=16; age=45.3 ± 3.3 years) and CON(n=13; age=45.4 ± 3.8 years) and the changes over time. Total body fat mass (FM; kg), percentfat (%FAT), fat-free soft tissue (FFST; kg) and aBMD of the total body, lumbar spine, non-dominant proximal femur (PF), femoral neck and WardÕs triangle were assessed using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA; Hologic QDR-1000W). Past physical activity wasestimated using a self-report, study-designed questionnaire. Independent samples t-tests wereemployed to compare aBMD in GYM and CON at baseline and at the nine-year follow-up.Analysis of covariance was used to compare the changes (”) in aBMD between GYM and CON2and to quantify the magnitude of the effects (i.e., partial eta-squared; ·; where 0.06 and 0.13 aremedium and large effects, respectively). GYM had significantly lower BW, FM, and %FAT2(p<0.05; ·>0.14), and higher measures of FFST/BW and aBMD at all skeletal sites compared to2CON (p<0.05; ·>0.14) at both time points. Over time, changes in GYM and CON did not differ22significantly with respect to BW (p=0.12; ·=0.09), FM (p=0.38; ·=0.03), %FAT (p=0.92;22·=0.00), or aBMD at any skeletal site (p>0.05; ·<0.08). CON had greater gains in FFST than2GYM (8.68 ± 1.80% vs. 3.22 ± 0.92%; p=0.01; ·=0.23); however, when FFST was correctedfor BW, no significant difference was found between GYM and CON. Additionally, there wereno significant differences in the total minutes of physical activity per week reported over the pastnine years between groups. In conclusion, the higher aBMD observed in GYM compared toCON fifteen years after the cessation of the sport, was maintained over the following nine years,regardless of less physical activity since competitive gymnastics training.