Impact of adolescent physical activity on hip strength


Adolescence can set the course for a person’s health for life. A new study looks at how physical activity can impact hip strength and potentially reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Health choices made in adolescence can have a lifelong impact. Habits are formed and coping mechanisms are determined. A new study in JAMA Network Open looks at how a person’s physical activity in adolescence can be linked to later life hip strength.1

Researchers used the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, which is a prospective birth cohort study that enrolled all pregnant women from 3 health authorities in Southwest England. A total of 15,454 women were enrolled and they delivered 15,589 infants of which 14,901 were alive at 1 year of age. The researchers used 2569 of the healthy offspring who had a clinical assessment at 1 age: 12, 14, 16, or 25 years, and who had up to 4 repeated accelerometer assessments.

The male participants were found to spend more time engaging in moderate to vigorous intensity activity at each age assessed and they also had greater adult femur neck bone mineral density than the female participants. There were 6 subgroups identified for each sex: 3 for light intensity trajectory and 3 moderate to vigorous intensity trajectory. With the moderate to vigorous intensity trajectories, male participants were predominantly in the low adolescent subgroup (85%) and 6% were in the high early-adolescents and 9% in the high mid-adolescent subgroups. Among female participants, the moderate to vigorous intensity trajectory was divided into low adolescent-low adult (73%), low adolescent-high adult (8%), and high adolescent (19%) subgroups.

The femur neck bone mineral was greater in the high mid-adolescent subgroup (0.33 g/cm2; 95% CI, 0.07-0.60 g/cm2) and high early-adolescent subgroup (0.38 g/cm2; 95% CI, 0.11-0.66 g/cm2) when compared with the reference subgroup. Among the female participants, the femur neck bone mineral density was found to be greater in the high adolescent subgroup (0.28 g/cm2; 95% CI, 0.15-0.41 g/cm2) when compared with the reference group. This finding was not found with the female low adolescent-high adult subgroup (−0.12 g/cm2; 95% CI, −0.44 to 0.20 g/cm2). The light intensity trajectories were not linked with femur neck bone mineral density.

The investigators concluded that high-intensity physical activity could ensure that patients get the maximum amount of hip strength, which could prevent osteoporosis later in life. They also said that further studies to replicate the findings are important.


1. Elhakeem A, Heron J, Tobias J, Lawlor D. Physical activity throughout adolescence and peak hip strength in young adults. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(8):e2013463. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.13463

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