In this population-based study of 75-year-old men (n = 498), we investigated the association between physical activity (PA) early in life and present bone mineral density (BMD). We demonstrate that a high frequency of competitive sports early in life is associated with BMD at several bone sites, indicating that increases in BMD following PA are preserved longer than previously believed. Introduction Physical activity (PA) increases bone mineral density (BMD) during growth. It is unclear if the positive effects remain at old age. In this study, we aimed to determine if PA early in life was associated with BMD in elderly men. Methods In this population-based study, 498 men, 75.2 +/- .3 (mean +/- SD) years old, were included. BMD was assessed using DXA. Data concerning lifetime PA, including both competitive (CS) and recreational sports (RS), and occupational physical load (OPL), were collected at interview. Results Subjects in the highest frequency group of CS in the early period (10-35 years), had higher BMD at the total body (4.2%, p < 0.01), total hip (7.0%, p < 0.01), trochanter (8.7%, p < 0.01), and lumbar spine (7.9%, p < 0.01), than subjects not involved in CS. A stepwise linear regression model showed that frequency of CS in the early period independently positively predicted present BMD at the total body (beta=0.12, p < 0.01), total hip (beta=0.11, p < 0.01), trochanter (beta=0.12, p < 0.01), and lumbar spine (beta=0.11, p=0.01). Conclusions We demonstrate that PA in CS early in life is associated with BMD in 75-year-old Swedish men, indicating that increases in BMD following PA are preserved longer than previously believed.
2008. Vol. 19, no 11, 1557-1566 p.