Inactive Teens Develop Weaker Bones

Nicole Gilbert

There are many consequences to being inactive, especially during a person’s teenage years, including heart diseases and obesity. However, not getting the adequate amount of activity during these crucial years can also affect the strength of one’s bones. Studies show that inactive teens have weaker bones than those who are active.


The Research
Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute conducted the assessment in 309 teenagers over a four-year period that is considered essential in the growth of the skeletal system. This period, reported as the ages 10 to 14 in females and 12 to 16 in males, is claimed to be vital in the long term health of a human’s bones. It is also categorized as when bones are seen to be reactive to physical activity.


The study assessed the amount of physical activity compared to the strength of bones in these 309 teenagers. Bone strength is defined as the “combination of bone size, density and microarchitecture” (University of British Columbia). The researchers used a 3D X-ray to produce images to see the difference in bone formation between teens who received less than 30 minutes a day of physical activity compared to those who received around 60 minutes of physical activity.


The Findings
Throughout the board, the research showed that those who had less physical activity had weaker bones. As said by Leigh Gabel, from the department of orthopedics at UBC, “We found that teens who are less active had weaker bones, and bone strength is critical for preventing fractures.” She also noted, “Kids who are sitting around are not loading their bones in ways that promote bone strength.” By getting up and gaining some sort of physical activity, teenagers are able to build stronger bones as well as receive many other benefits.


Physical activity strengthens bones as it stimulates the formation of bone tissue which ultimately makes bones stronger. The strengthening of muscles during physical activity places stress on the bones which also promotes stronger bone tissue.


The Relevance
While this study may seem like it is only pertinent to teens currently in this crucial four year period, it is still vital for all teens to get an adequate amount of physical activity. Without gaining physical activity, bones can weaken and become more prone to bone fractures, as well as lead to lifelong medical conditions such as osteoporosis.


The Conclusion
The conclusion of the study is that teenagers should become more active, whether that is with sports, vigorous activity, or even running around a park. Researchers believe that teens should step back from electronic devices and according to Heather McKay, an orthopedic professor at UBC, “The bottom line is that children and youth need to step away from their screens and move to build the foundation for lifelong bone health.”


By Aanya Lall ’19



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Matthews, Stephen. “Why children really need to exercise: Inactive teenagers develop lazy
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University of British Columbia. “Inactive teens develop lazy bones.” Science Daily,
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