Proximal tibia volumetric bone mineral density is correlated to the magnitude of local acceleration in male long-distance runners

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2010 Apr;108(4):852-7. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00865.2009. Epub 2010 Feb 4.


The beneficial effect of physical exercise on bone mineral density (BMD) is at least partly explained by the forces exerted directly on the bones. Male runners present generally higher BMD than sedentary individuals. We postulated that the proximal tibia BMD is related to the running distance, as well as to the magnitude of the shocks (while running) in male runners. A prospective study (three yearly measurements) included 81 healthy male subjects: 16 sedentary lean subjects, and 3 groups of runners (5-30 km/wk, n = 19; 30-50 km/wk, n = 29; 50-100 km/wk, n = 17). Several measurements were performed at the proximal tibia level: volumetric BMD (vBMD) and cortical index (CI), i.e., an index of cortical bone thickness and peak accelerations (an index of shocks during heel strike) while running (measured by a three-dimensional accelerometer). A general linear model assessed the prediction of vBMD or CI by 1) simple effects (running distance, peak accelerations, time); and 2) interactions (for instance, if vBMD prediction by peak acceleration depends on running distance). CI and vBMD 1) increase with running distance to reach a plateau over 30 km/wk; and 2) are positively associated with peak accelerations over 30 km/wk. Running may be associated with high peak accelerations to have beneficial effects on BMD. More important strains are needed to be associated with the same increase in BMD during running sessions of short duration than those of long duration. CI and vBMD are associated with the magnitude of the shocks during heel strike in runners.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration*
  • Adult
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Exertion
  • Radiography
  • Running / physiology*
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Tibia / anatomy & histology*
  • Tibia / diagnostic imaging
  • Tibia / metabolism*