Molecular Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Management, Research Institute, National Cancer Center, 323 Insan-ro, Ilsandong-gu, Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do, 410-769, Republic of Korea.
Regular exercise and physical activity (PA) are known to be protective factors for maintaining bone mineral density (BMD) and preventing osteoporotic fracture. We investigated the associations between leisure-time PA and BMD in 2,903 premenopausal and 2,267 postmenopausal women in Korea. BMDs of the lumbar spine and femur were measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Leisure-time PA levels were assessed by a self-administrated questionnaire, and a total metabolic equivalent (MET) score was obtained. Regardless of menopausal status, performing more than moderate levels of leisure-time PA or total MET score had a significant positive association with BMD at both the lumbar spine and femur. In the premenopausal group, women whose total MET score was 1,050-1,500 (MET-min/week) appeared to have the highest lumbar spine and femoral BMD (p < 0.001). The associations between PA level and lumbar spine and femoral BMD were also shown in the postmenopausal group (p < 0.001). In addition, we found dose-response relationships between increasing exercise level and femoral BMD in both the premenopausal and postmenopausal groups. Our results indicate that a more than moderate level of leisure-time PA plays a role in maintaining BMD.