Association of objectively measured physical activity and bone health in children and adolescents: a systematic review and narrative synthesis

V. L. Bland, M. Heatherington-Rauth, C. Howe, S. B. Going, J. W. Bea

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The influence of day-to-day physical activity on bone in adolescence has not been well characterized. Forty articles were identified that assessed the relationship between accelerometry-derived physical activity and bone outcomes in adolescents. Physical activity was positively associated with bone strength in peri-pubertal males, with less consistent evidence in females. Physical activity (PA) is recommended to optimize bone development in childhood and adolescence; however, the influence of day-to-day PA on bone development is not well defined. The aim of this review was to describe the current evidence for objectively measured PA on bone outcomes in healthy children and adolescents. MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Library, Scopus, Web of Science, CINAHL, PsycInfo, and were searched for relevant articles up to April 2020. Studies assessing the relationship between accelerometry-derived PA and bone outcomes in adolescents (6–18 years old) were included. Two reviewers independently screened studies for eligibility, extracted data, and rated study quality. Forty articles met inclusion criteria (25 cross-sectional, 15 longitudinal). There was significant heterogeneity in accelerometry methodology and bone outcomes measured. Studies in males indicated a significant, positive relationship between moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) and bone outcomes at the hip and femur, particularly during the peri-pubertal years. The results for MVPA and bone outcomes in females were mixed. There was a paucity of longitudinal studies using pQCT and a lack of data regarding how light PA and/or impact activity influences bone outcomes. The current evidence suggests that objectively measured MVPA is positively associated with bone outcomes in children and adolescents, especially in males. However, inconsistencies in methodology make it difficult to determine the amount and type of PA that leads to favorable bone outcomes. Given that the majority of research has been conducted in Caucasian adolescents, further research is needed in minority populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1865-1894
Number of pages30
JournalOsteoporosis International
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Accelerometry
  • Adolescents
  • Bone
  • Child
  • Exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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