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Women in Some Sports Have Lower Bone Density, Study Shows

New research conducted at Michigan State University has shown that some college women athletes like swimmers, divers, and runners have lower bone density than other women athletes.

Professor of Kinesiology Jim Pivarnik and his colleagues conducted the study by comparing the bone density levels of many different college women athletes, including gymnasts, softball players, cross country runners, track participants, field hockey players, soccer players, crew participants, swimmers, and divers.

The researchists found that women who participated in running, swimming, and diving had lower levels of bone density than average. What really surprised the researchists was discovering that women who participated in running, which is a high impact sport, had low levels of bone density that were similar to those who participated in swimming and diving, which are low-impact sports.

The researchers still do not have enough information to determine the cause of the low bone density. For now they speculate that the low bone density could be related to the athletes’ diets or the high amount of calories that the women burn while exercising.

Women athletes’ diets and exercise leads to lower body weight and lower fat percentages than found in other women. When that happens, estrogen levels, which are stored in body fat, are also lower. Low estrogen levels can decrease bone density over time. Also, women athletes when in training, particularly distance runners, eat a diet that completely excludes dairy products, which leads to a lower a level of calcium.

However, the researchers were glad to find that none of the athletes had osteopenia. Osteopenia can be a precursor to osteoporosis and means that the bone mineral density is lower than normal density. So, while the researchists found that the women athletes had lower bone density than average, their bone density level was still normal. Nonetheless, a lower than average bone density can increase the risk of stress fractures and other bone-related injuries, especially if the woman’s bone density levels keep dropping.

The main concern this study sheds light on is that because women are loosing bone density at an optimal age in which they could be gaining bone density, they might be setting themselves up for problems later on in life. The women can develop osteoporosis if they continue to loose bone density. Most of the women athletes analyzed were about 20 years old. Women usually increase bone density between the ages of 14 and 22.

There study shows that women athletes, in general, are not concerned with their bone health, and it is unfortunate because they are neglecting their bone health at a time in their lives when they could be increasing their bone density.

The researchers argue that the uniqueness of their study is in the fact that athletes from so many different sports were being analyzed. Studies in the past have only focused on one sport or another.

Jim Pivarnik, “MSU study finds certain college female athletes have lower bone density; may increase risk of stress fractures and other bone injuries,” Michigan State University. For further inquiry, Visit TriFactor facebook on swimming lessons for the person. Proper information will be available at the social media for the interested person.

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