Former college artistic gymnasts maintain higher BMD: A nine-year follow-up

N. K. Pollock, E. M. Laing, C. M. Modlesky, P. J. O'Connor, R. D. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Introduction: If higher bone gains acquired from weight-bearing sports during growth persist into old age, the residual benefits could delay or even prevent osteoporotic fractures. The purpose of this study was to determine if the higher areal bone mineral density (aBMD) observed 15 years after competitive training and competition in former female college artistic gymnasts (GYM) compared with controls (CON) is maintained nine years later in this same cohort approaching menopause. In this 9-year follow-up, aBMD changes were also compared between GYM (n=16; aged 45.3±3.3 years) and CON (n=13; aged 45.4±3.8 years). Methods: Total body, lumbar spine, proximal femur, femoral neck, leg, and arm aBMD were assessed at baseline and follow-up using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), (Hologic QDR-1000W). GYM had higher aBMD at all sites at follow-up (P<0.05; η 2>0.14). Results: While there were no significant differences between groups for percent changes in aBMD at the total body, lumbar spine, total proximal femur, femoral neck, and arm, the change in leg aBMD was significantly different between GYM and CON (P=0.05; η 2=0.14). Conclusions: Former female college artistic gymnasts maintained significantly higher aBMD than controls 24 years after retirement from gymnastics training and competition. This study provides greater insight into the effects of past athletic participation on skeletal health in women approaching menopause.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1691-1697
Number of pages7
JournalOsteoporosis International
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Detraining
  • Exercise
  • Former athletes
  • Former gymnasts
  • Gymnastics
  • Retired gymnasts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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