The Practicing Parent: Healthy Bones

Most people don't start thinking about their bone health until midlife or later, but researchers say concern about the strength of bones should start in childhood, when the body builds most of the bone.

We all know milk does the body goodâ?¦but what else can strengthen your child's bones? Kids reach their peak bone mass by age 12.

Evidence shows that increasing peak bone mass in childhood by just 10% could delay osteoporosis by 13 years, so to strengthen your child's bones keep them exercisingâ?¦but not all exercises

are created equal.

One study at the University of New Mexico found that swimmers had lower bone density than those who didn't exercise at all. This is because their bones don't support any weight during the activity.

There are many activities your child can do now to prevent osteoporosis later. Bones respond best to a combination of stress, rest, and variety. The best activities are soccer,

basketball, and gymnastics.

In a study of 99 college women who participated in NCAA Division One sports, runners had the lowest bone density values at every site

measured except their legs.