Swimming and cycling do not cause positive effects on bone mineral density: a systematic review

Rev Bras Reumatol Engl Ed. 2016 Jul-Aug;56(4):345-51. doi: 10.1016/j.rbre.2016.02.013. Epub 2016 Mar 11.
[Article in English, Portuguese]


Osteoporosis is considered a common metabolic bone disease and its prevalence is increasing worldwide. In this context, physical activity has been used as a non-pharmacological tool for prevention and auxiliary treatment of this disease. The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the effects of cycling and swimming practice on bone mineral density (BMD). This research was conducted in accordance with the recommendations outlined by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses. The studies were consulted in the period from 2004 to 2014, through major electronic databases: PubMed(®), SciELO(®) and LILACS(®). Ten studies evaluated the effects of cycling on BMD, and the results showed that nine studies have linked the practice of professional cycling with low levels of BMD. Another 18 studies have reported that swimming has no positive effects on bone mass. We conclude that cycling and swimming do not cause positive effects on BMD; thus, these are not the most suitable exercises for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

Keywords: Atividade física; Bone density; Densidade óssea; Exercise; Exercício físico; Osteopenia; Osteoporose; Osteoporosis; Physical activity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Bone Density* / physiology
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic
  • Humans
  • Osteoporosis
  • Prevalence
  • Swimming / physiology*