Children's Health and Exercise

Research theme: Bone health


Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by reduced bone mass and deterioration of bone microarchitecture, resulting in increased risk of fragility fractures. Bone mass acquisition during adolescence seems to be not only an important determinant of skeletal growth but also a key factor for reducing the risk of osteoporosis later in life. In this regard, a 10 % increase in peak bone mass during adolescence might reduce the risk of fracture later in life by 50 % and delay the onset of osteoporosis by 13 years. However, early prevention remains as one of the most prudent approaches to improve bone health.

Exercise is an effective approach for developing bone mass during puberty, but some sports may have a positive or negative impact on bone mass accrual. With football, swimming, and cycling among the most popular sports during childhood and adolescence in the United Kingdom, understanding the contribution of these sports to bone mineralisation and metabolism is of importance. In addition, plyometric jump training has been suggested as a type of exercise that can augment bone, but its effects on adolescent bone mass have not been rigorously assessed. In this context, the PRO-BONE study includes accurate measurements of body composition (using different devices), geometrical parameters and bone metabolism markers (among others) in male athletic adolescents involved in these sports, providing a golden opportunity to analyse this research question.

The aims of the PRO-BONE study are to:

  1. longitudinally assess bone health and its metabolism in adolescents engaged in osteogenic (football), non-osteogenic (cycling and swimming) sports and in a control group
  2. examine the effect of a 9 month plyometric jump training programme on bone related outcomes in the sport groups.

Current status

Due to its longitudinal design (33 months follow-up), participants are measured on 5 occasions:

  1. at baseline (2014/15).
  2. after 12 months of sport specific training where each sport group will be randomly allocated into two sub-groups: intervention group (sport + plyometric jump training) and sport group (sport only).
  3. exactly after the 9 months of intervention.
  4. 6 months following the intervention.
  5. 12 months following the intervention.

The study has recruited 121 males aged 12–14 years at the beginning of the study and currently a second round of measurements is taking place.