Open Access Research article

The intensity of physical activity influences bone mineral accrual in childhood: the childhood health, activity and motor performance school (the CHAMPS) study, Denmark

Malene Heidemann1*, Christian Mølgaard15, Steffen Husby1, Anders J Schou1, Heidi Klakk3, Niels Chr Møller3, René Holst4 and Niels Wedderkopp2

Author affiliations

1 Hans Christian Andersen Children’s Hospital, Odense University Hospital, Sdr. Boulevard 29, Odense C DK-5000, Denmark

2 Spine Centre of Southern Denmark, Hospital Lillebaelt, Middelfart, Denmark

3 RICH, Centre of Research in Childhood Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

4 Institute of Regional Health Research, Department of Biostatistics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

5 Department of Nutrition, Exercise and sport, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

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Citation and License

BMC Pediatrics 2013, 13:32  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-32

Published: 2 March 2013



Studies indicate genetic and lifestyle factors can contribute to optimal bone development. In particular, the intensity level of physical activity may have an impact on bone health. This study aims to assess the relationship between physical activity at different intensities and Bone Mineral Content (BMC), Bone Mineral Density (BMD) and Bone Area (BA) accretion.


This longitudinal study is a part of The CHAMPS study-DK. Whole-body DXA scans were performed at baseline and after two years follows up. BMC, BMD, and BA were measured. The total body less head (TBLH) values were used. Physical activity (PA) was recorded by accelerometers (ActiGraph, model GT3X). Percentages of different PA intensity levels were calculated and log odds of two intensity levels of activity relative to the third level were calculated. Multilevel regression analyses were used to assess the relationship between the categories of physical activity and bone traits.


Of 800 invited children, 742 (93%) accepted to participate. Of these, 682/742 (92%) participated at follow up. Complete datasets were obtained in 602/742 (81%) children. Mean (range) of age was 11.5 years (9.7-13.9). PA at different intensity levels was for boys and girls respectively, sedentary 62% and 64%, low 29% for both genders and moderate to high 9% and 7% of the total time. Mean (range) BMC, BMD, and BA was 1179 g (563–2326), 0.84 g/cm2 (0.64-1.15) and 1393 cm2 (851–2164), respectively. Valid accelerometer data were obtained for a mean of 6.1 days, 13 hours per day.


There 7was a positive relationship between the log odds of moderate to high-level PA versus low level activity and BMC, BMD and BA. Children with an increased proportion of time in moderate to high-level activity as opposed to sedentary and low-level activity achieved positive effects on BMC, BMD and BA.

Dual energy X- ray absorptiometry; Bone health; Physical activity; Accelerometers