Bone mineral density in lifelong trained male football players compared with young and elderly untrained men

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Purpose: The purpose of the present controlled cross-sectional study was to investigate proximal femur and whole-body bone mineral density (BMD), as well as bone turnover profile, in lifelong trained elderly male football players and young elite football players compared with untrained age-matched men.

Methods: One hundred and forty healthy, non-smoking men participated in the study, including lifelong trained football players (FTE, n = 35) aged 65-80 years, elite football players (FTY, n = 35) aged 18-30 years, as well as untrained age-matched elderly (UE, n = 35) and young (UY, n = 35) men. All participants underwent a regional Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA) scan of the proximal femur and a whole-body DXA scan to determine BMD. From a resting blood sample, the bone turnover markers (BTMs) osteocalcin, carboxy-terminal type-1 collagen crosslinks (CTX-1), procollagen type-1 amino-terminal propeptide (P1NP), and sclerostin were measured. 

Results: FTE had 7.3%-12.9% higher (p <. 0.05) BMD of the femoral neck, wards, shaft, and total proximal femur in both legs compared to UE, and 9.3%-9.7% higher (p <. 0.05) BMD in femoral trochanter in both legs compared to UY. FTY had 24.3%-37.4% higher (p <. 0.001) BMD in all femoral regions and total proximal femur in both legs compared to UY. The whole-body DXA scan confirmed these results, with FTE showing similar whole-body BMD and 7.9% higher (p <. 0.05) leg BMD compared to UY, and with FTY having 9.6% higher (p <. 0.001) whole-body BMD and 18.2% higher (p <. 0.001) leg BMD compared to UY. The plasma concentration of osteocalcin, CTX-1, and P1NP were 29%, 53%, and 52% higher (p <. 0.01), respectively, in FTY compared to UY. 

Conclusion: BMD of the proximal femur and whole-body BMD are markedly higher in lifelong trained male football players aged 65-80 years and young elite football players aged 18-30 years compared to age-matched untrained men. Elderly football players even show higher BMD in femoral trochanter and leg BMD than untrained young despite an age difference of 47 years.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sport and Health Science
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)159-168
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Bone mass, Bone turnover markers, Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry, Proximal femur bone mineral density, Soccer, Whole-body bone mineral density

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