Purpose: Given the lack of research investigating surfing and bone health, we aimed to assess the bone mineral density (BMD) of middle-aged and older surfers.
Patients and methods: In a cross-sectional observational design, we compared a group of middle-aged and older surfers to a group of non-surfers, age- and sex-matched controls. Participants were males, aged between 50 and 75 years. Volunteers were assessed for body mass index, bone-specific physical activity questionnaire (BPAQ) scores, daily calcium intake, and alcohol intake. Primary outcomes included BMD at the femur and lumbar spine (LS), and T-score, assessed via dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Bone biomarkers were also analyzed.
Results: A total of 104 participants (59 surfers and 45 controls) were assessed. Groups were similar with regards to all demographic characteristics except for percentage of lean mass (higher in surfers, mean difference [MD] +2.57%; 95% CI 0.05-5.09; p=0.046) and current BPAQ score (lower in surfers; MD -0.967; 95% CI -0.395 to -1.539; p=0.001). Surfers had a mean surfing experience of 41.2 (SD +11.8) years and mean surfing exposure of 26.9 (SD +15.0) hours/month. Controls were divided into two groups, according to their main physical activity: weight-bearing/ high intensity (WBHI) and non-weight-bearing/low intensity (NWBLI). When compared to NWBLI controls, surfers had higher LS BMD (MD +0.064; 95% CI 0.002-0.126; p=0.041) and higher T-score (MD +0.40; 95% CI 0.01-0.80; p=0.042); however, surfers had a lower T-score than the WBHI group (MD -0.52; 95% CI -0.02 to -1.0; p=0.039). No other differences were found between groups.
Conclusion: The findings of this study support our hypothesis that regular surfing may be an effective physical activity for middle-aged and older men to decrease bone deterioration related to aging, as we identified positive results for surfers in relation to primary outcomes.