Long-distance running, bone density, and osteoarthritis

JAMA. 1986 Mar 7;255(9):1147-51.


Forty-one long-distance runners aged 50 to 72 years were compared with 41 matched community controls to examine associations of repetitive, long-term physical impact (running) with osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Roentgenograms of hands, lateral lumbar spine, and knees were assessed without knowledge of running status. A computed tomographic scan of the first lumbar vertebra was performed to quantitate bone mineral content. Runners, both male and female, have approximately 40% more bone mineral than matched controls. Female runners, but not male runners, appear to have somewhat more sclerosis and spur formation in spine and weight-bearing knee x-ray films, but not in hand x-ray films. There were no differences between groups in joint space narrowing, crepitation, joint stability, or symptomatic osteoarthritis. Running is associated with increased bone mineral but not, in this cross-sectional study, with clinical osteoarthritis.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bone and Bones / analysis*
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Hand / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minerals / analysis*
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology*
  • Physical Endurance
  • Radiography
  • Running*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Minerals