With news Iowan Shawn Johnson is beginning training for the 2012 Olympics, new research shows gymnastics can help boost bone density and strength.
Doctors in Greece looked at 49 young teen girls. About half were elite rhythmic gymnasts who'd trained for at least two years. The others got their exercise through gym class.
There was a marked difference in the bone health between the two groups of girls -- with gymnasts having much stronger and thicker bones.
What's unclear is how this might affect the girls as they grow older. Some studies have shown a decrease in bone mineral density after athletes stop their intensive training.