The extent to which peak bone mass, structure, and strength are improved by adolescent activity will be determined, using gymnastics participation as a model of mechanical loading. A 6-10 year longitudinal study of approximately 60 late-adolescent female gymnasts and non-gymnasts will be extended and supplemented by the addition of 80 early-adolescent girls (gymnasts and non-gymnasts). Annual dual energy X-ray absorptiometry scans of the forearm, proximal femur, lumbar spine, and total body, with concurrent peripheral quantitative computed tomography scans of the forearm, will evaluate skeletal geometry, density and strength. Diet, gymnastics and other physical activity, anthropometry and Tanner self-stage will be assessed semi-annually;muscle strength will be measured annually to coincide with skeletal scans. Longitudinal and mixed longitudinal designs will use Multilevel Modeling to examine the relative contributions of geometric and densitometric skeletal adaptations and determine the persistence of those benefits to skeletal maturity. This work will provide a unique longitudinal perspective of bone growth and skeletal maintenance in the context of maturation and gymnastic activity. If this extreme model of mechanical loading does not yield persistent skeletal improvements, more widely applicable modes are unlikely to confer lasting benefits. Enhancement of peak bone mass and structure is a crucial strategy for the prevention of osteoporosis. Mechanical loading appears to increase bone acquisition during growth, yet the extent to which these benefits are maintained is unclear. The proposed study will detail skeletal responses to adolescent gymnastic activity and assess maintenance of benefits to adulthood, providing a foundation for the development of an adolescent exercise prescription to improve ultimate bone health.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Neurological, Aging and Musculoskeletal Epidemiology (NAME)
Program Officer
Chen, Faye H
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Upstate Medical University
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Dowthwaite, Jodi N; Dunsmore, Kristen A; Wang, Dongliang et al. (2018) Cross-Calibrated Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry Scanners Demonstrate Systematic Bias in Pediatric and Young Adult Females. J Clin Densitom 21:281-294
Ren, Jie; Brann, Lynn S; Bruening, Kay S et al. (2017) Relationships among diet, physical activity, and dual plane dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry bone outcomes in pre-pubertalgirls. Arch Osteoporos 12:19
Scerpella, Tamara A; Bernardoni, Brittney; Wang, Sijian et al. (2016) Site-specific, adult bone benefits attributed to loading during youth: A preliminary longitudinal analysis. Bone 85:148-59
Bernardoni, Brittney; Scerpella, Tamara A; Rosenbaum, Paula F et al. (2015) The Influence of Organized Physical Activity (Including Gymnastics) on Young Adult Skeletal Traits: Is Maturity Phase Important? Pediatr Exerc Sci 27:285-96
Day, M A; Dowthwaite, J N; Rosenbaum, P F et al. (2015) Pre-menarcheal physical activity predicts post-menarcheal lean mass and core strength, but not fat mass. J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact 15:341-9
Dowthwaite, J N; Dunsmore, K A; Gero, N M et al. (2015) Arm bone loading index predicts DXA musculoskeletal outcomes in two samples of post-menarcheal girls. J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact 15:358-71
Dowthwaite, Jodi N; Rosenbaum, Paula F; Sames, Carol A et al. (2014) Muscle function, dynamic loading, and femoral neck structure in pediatric females. Med Sci Sports Exerc 46:911-9
Scerpella, Tamara A; Gero, Nicole M; Ursillo, Christopher R et al. (2013) Improved body composition assessment using biceps skinfold and physical activity score in premenarcheal girls: a DXA-based validation study. Int J Body Compos Res 11:35-42
Dowthwaite, Jodi N; Rosenbaum, Paula F; Scerpella, Tamara A (2012) Site-specific advantages in skeletal geometry and strength at the proximal femur and forearm in young female gymnasts. Bone 50:1173-83
Scerpella, T A; Dowthwaite, J N; Rosenbaum, P F (2011) Sustained skeletal benefit from childhood mechanical loading. Osteoporos Int 22:2205-10

Showing the most recent 10 out of 15 publications