Researchers in Canada have found that children have the greatest increase in bone mineral after the growth spurt just before puberty. Children who do not take enough exercise are in danger of suffering broken bones in later life, says the study.
Many fail to strengthen up their skeleton during a vital two-year window before puberty, which is critical to building healthy bones. In girls this tends to be between 10 and 12 and in boys it is from 13 to 15. Extra effort to exercise during this time will make a big difference, say researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, who are studying 254 children.
Research co-ordinator Heather McKay said: "If we can increase bone mass by 10% by adulthood, we can decrease the incidence of fractures by 50%."The young volunteers took part in a circuit training programme lasting 15 minutes just three times a week.
Children in this group were to skip and do box jumps, side-to-side jumps and other high-impact exercises.Other children spend the same amount of time doing stretches and warm ups.After a year, the girls doing circuit training had amassed an extra 2% of bone mineral compared with the stretchers.
The National osteoporosis center emphasized that many children need to be more physically active and one of the ways of tackling the huge problem of osteoporosis is to encourage youngsters to increase peak bone mass by taking enough of the right type of exercise with a well-balanced calcium rich diet.