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Exercise More Important Than Calcium for Strong Bones

Reports of a new study appeared inside the June 10, 2004 publication of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. This new study suggests that exercise is more valuable than calcium in developing strong bones in girls and young women. Researchers at Penn State University and Johns Hopkins University discovered that when girls absorbed much less calcium than the recommended daily allowance, bone strength had not been significantly affected, but that bone strength was relevant to their exercise habits.

This Penn State Young Women's Health Study began in 1990 with 112 12-year-old girls from central Pennsylvania. The ongoing study has tracked the cardiovascular, reproductive and bone health of the subjects, now in their mid-20s. Moira Petit, one of the Penn State researchers noted, "When we checked out their lean mass, what we saw was that a 1 kilogram boost in lean mass was connected with a 2 1/2 percent increase in their bone strength." Dr. Thomas P. Olenginski, who works with osteoporosis patients at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa., praised the study for its detailed look at bone strength, but warned that no person should ignore calcium entirely. He stated, "There is a concern that children may think, 'I can continue to drink only sodas provided that I'm working out,'" Olenginski said. "It's the complete package that's still important." Researcher Tom Lloyd of Penn State's College of Medicine at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center figured that even at the lower levels, calcium intake did actually have little influence on bone strength.

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