Bone related health status in adolescent cyclists

PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e24841. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024841. Epub 2011 Sep 30.


Purpose: To describe bone status and analyse bone mass in adolescent cyclists.

Methods: Male road cyclists (n = 22) who had been training for a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 7 years with a volume of 10 h/w, were compared to age-matched controls (n = 22) involved in recreational sports activities. Subjects were divided in 2 groups based on age: adolescents under 17 yrs (cyclists, n = 11; controls, n = 13) and over 17 yrs (cyclists, n = 11; controls, n = 9). Peak oxygen uptake (VO(2)max) was measured on a cycloergometer. Whole body, lumbar spine, and hip bone mineral content (BMC), density (BMD) and bone area were assessed using dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Volumetric BMD (vBMD) and bone mineral apparent density (BMAD) were also estimated.

Results: The BMC of cyclists was lower for the whole body, pelvis, femoral neck and legs; BMD for the pelvis, hip, legs and whole body and legs bone area was lower but higher in the hip area (all, P≤0.05) after adjusting by lean mass and height. The BMC of young cyclists was 10% lower in the leg and 8% higher in the hip area than young controls (P≤0.05). The BMC of cyclists over 17 yrs was 26.5%, 15.8% and 14.4% lower BMC at the pelvis, femoral neck and legs respectively while the BMD was 8.9% to 24.5% lower for the whole body, pelvis, total hip, trochanter, intertrochanter, femoral neck and legs and 17.1% lower the vBMD at the femoral neck (all P≤0.05). Grouped by age interaction was found in both pelvis and hip BMC and BMD and in femoral neck vBMD (all P≤0.05).

Conclusion: Cycling performed throughout adolescence may negatively affect bone health, then compromising the acquisition of peak bone mass.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon / methods
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry / methods
  • Athletes
  • Bicycling*
  • Body Composition
  • Bone Density*
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen / chemistry
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen