Bone adaptations in male collegiate-level cheerleaders
Involvement in resistance or high-impact sports is a known contributor to bone health in young athletes. However, no study to date has examined the sport of cheerleading and its potential impact on bone mineral density (BMD) and lean body mass. The purpose of this study was to assess BMD of the lumbar spine and the proximal femur in male cheerleaders. A secondary purpose was to examine measures of body composition. Twelve male collegiate-level cheerleaders and 12 age, height and weight matched recreationally active males (CON) volunteered for the study. The cheerleaders' appendicular lean mass and total lean mass were significantly greater (33.56 plus/minus 3.37 and 72.22 plus/minus 6.56 kg) compared to CON (29.57 plus/minus 2.73 and 66.19 plus/minus 5.09), P<0.05. The cheerleaders also had a lower percentage of body fat and total fat mass (13.1 plus/minus 4.48% and 11.66 plus/minus 5.10kg) compared to CON (18.92 plus/minus 4.53% and 16.30 plus/minus 4.66kg), P<0.05. Although there were no statistically significant differences in any of the BMD variables between groups, the average Z-scores at clinically significant sites ranged from 0.3 to 1.3 standard deviations above the age and ethnicity-related population norm, as defined by the World Health Organization. These data suggest that cheerleading has a positive influence on bone health and measures of body composition.