Elderly Runners and Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review

Sports Med Arthrosc Rev. 2022 Jun 1;30(2):92-96. doi: 10.1097/JSA.0000000000000347. Epub 2022 May 4.


Purpose: The impact of running on the onset of osteoarthritis (OA) is controversial. This study compared the incidence of OA in elderly runners versus nonrunners.

Material and methods: This systematic review was conducted according to the PRISMA guidelines. PubMed, Google scholar, Embase, and Web of Science databases were accessed in January 2022. All the published clinical studies investigating OA onset in runners versus non-runners were considered. Studies reporting data on OA and participants in other sports were excluded. Only studies investigating patients with a mean age older than 55 years were considered. The methodological quality of the articles was evaluated using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS).

Results: Data from 3001 participants and 6674 joints were retrieved. The mean age was 59.4±2.7 years. The mean body mass index was 24.6±2.5 kg/m2. The 5 included articles (963 runners, 2038 nonrunners) did not report significant differences in runners compared with controls.

Conclusion: Middle aged runners did not present greater imaging or clinical signs of OA compared with nonrunner controls. Running at elite or recreational level did not increase the rate of OA progression in individuals older than 50 years.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis* / epidemiology
  • Running*