Physical Activity for Bone Health in Inactive Teenage Girls: Is a Supervised, Teacher-Led Program or Self-Led Program Best?

Niamh M. Murphy, Melanie Ni Dhuinn, Philip A. Browne, Maoilíosa M. ÓRathaille

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To investigate the effect of a six-month teacher-led osteogenic physical activity program, vs. a self-led activity program, on ultrasound measurements of bone in inactive teenage girls. Methods: Ninety sedentary girls [mean (SD) age 16.3 (6) years] were identified from 300 assessed for physical activity across five schools in southeast Ireland. Schools were matched and randomly assigned to a teacher-led physical activity (TLPA) program, a self-led physical activity (SLPA) program, or a control group. Broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA), speed of sound (SOS), and os calcis stiffness index (OCSI) were measured using a portable ultrasound machine. Anthropornetry, aerobic fitness, calcium intake, and physical activity were assessed, and focus groups held one month after program completion. Descriptive statistics, paired t-tests, and analysis of variance were used to analyze the data. Results: Both intervention groups demonstrated significant improvements (p <.05) in BUA, SOS, OCSI and aerobic fitness, i.e., TLPA: + 14.9%, + 21.9%, + 15.9%, and + 8.5 %, respectively, and SLPA: + 10.6%, + 30.3 %, + 15.6%, and + 5.1 %, respectively, with no change in controls. Differences between intervention groups and controls were significant for BUA and OCSI (p <.05). TLPA and SLPA groups engaged in an average of 4.5 and 3.4 hours/week of physical activity, respectively, over the intervention period. The SLPA group continued to exercise after the intervention had ceased, whereas the TLPA group did not. Conclusions: Previously inactive teenage girls can adhere to an osteogenic activity program whether supervised or directing their own activity. Longer-term, sustainable initiatives with this age group are needed and might focus on developing personal skills for physical activity. 0 2006 Society for Adolescent Medicine. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-514
Number of pages7
JournalJournal Of Adolescent Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006


  • BUA
  • Band ultrasound attenuation
  • adolescent girls
  • adolescents
  • bone
  • children
  • densitometry
  • health promotion
  • interventions
  • mineral density
  • os calcis
  • physical activity
  • quantitative
  • randomized controlled-trial
  • ultrasound
  • women


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