Bone status in elite male runners

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006 Jan;96(1):78-85. doi: 10.1007/s00421-005-0060-1. Epub 2005 Oct 26.


The aim of our study was to compare long distance runners to body mass index (BMI)- and age-matched healthy controls with respect to bone parameters at all relevant loaded and nonloaded skeletal sites. Furthermore, we assessed the effect of running volume on bone parameters. Twenty elite male runners (21.1 km<1:15 h; volume >75 km/week/year) participated in the study (RG), 11 age- and BMI-matched male subjects (28+/-5 years) served as nontraining controls (CG). Subjects with any medication or illness affecting bone metabolism or with a family history of osteoporosis were not included. Bone parameters at various sites (total body, lumbar spine, femoral neck/hip, calcaneus) were measured by dual energy X-ray (DXA), quantitative computed tomography and quantitative ultrasound. Body composition was assessed via DXA and bioimpedance analysis; nutritional parameters were determined by 5-day dietary protocols. Training variables were assessed by questionnaires. Compared with nontraining controls runners had significantly higher BMD at all loaded sites (calcaneus, lower limbs, femoral neck, pelvis, and trabecular lumbar spine). BMD at nonloaded sites (ribs, upper limbs, and skull) was slightly but not significantly higher in the runners. We observed a low (r=0.30), nonsignificant association between training volume (km/week/year) and trabecular BMD of the femoral neck, which disappeared after adjusting for age, BMI, and body fat in this group of highly trained male runners. The effect of long distance running per se on bone parameters is not deleterious.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Weights and Measures
  • Bone Density*
  • Bone and Bones*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet Records
  • Femur / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Running*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires