Most of us will never compete in the Senior Olympics, but surprising research on those who do may change the ways we try to protect our bones for the future. According to Dr. Vanda Wright and her colleagues who tested the bone strength of 560 athletes ages 50 to 93 at the 2005 National Senior Games, running, jumping, and playing sports such as basketball and volleyball may lead to greater strides against bone loss than other types of exercise and taking calcium supplements alone.
“High-impact sports, while not for everyone, can play a significant part in healthy bone aging,” explained Dr. Wright, assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Our study represents the largest sample of bone mineral density (BMD) data in mature athletes to date. We were surprised to see that active adult participation in high-impact sports had such a positive influence on bone health, even in the oldest athletes.”
To compete in the next Senior Olympics—tentatively scheduled for June 19-July 5, 2011, in Houston, Texas—athletes age 50+ on December 31, 2009, must qualify at local events that are held in 2010 and sanctioned by the National Senior Games Association.