The relationship of running to osteoarthritis of the knee and hip and bone mineral density of the lumbar spine: a 9 year longitudinal study

J Rheumatol. 1998 Feb;25(2):334-41.


Objective: To determine the associations between running and radiographic hip osteoarthritis (OA), the progression of radiographic knee OA, and changes in bone mineral density (BMD) after 9 year followup in 28 members of a running club now aged 60-77 years and 27 nonrunner controls.

Methods: Running subjects and nonrunning controls were matched for age (+/- 2 years), years of education, and occupation. All subjects underwent rheumatologic examination, completed annual questionnaires, and had radiographs taken of the knees in 1984, 1986, 1989, and 1993 and of the hips in 1993. BMD of the first lumbar spine vertebrae was obtained in 36 subjects by quantitative computed tomography (QCT) in 1984, 1986, 1989, and 1993. In 1993, knee radiographs were assessed in pairs (1984 and 1993), and hip radiographs were scored by 2 readers individually without knowledge of running status.

Results: Nine year radiographic results for both runners and nonrunners for the knees showed significant within-group progression of both osteophytes and total knee radiographic scores (p = 0.01 for runners and p = 0.05 for nonrunners) and joint space narrowing in nonrunners (p = 0.01). Runners tended to have higher radiographic scores, but no significant differences in between-group differences were seen in 1984 or 1993. Radiographic OA of the hip was not different between the groups. QCT of the first lumbar vertebrae for BMD in 1984, 1986, 1989, and 1993 was greater in runners than nonrunners (p = 0.01), but rates of change in QCT values were similar between the 2 groups (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: The presence of radiographic hip OA and the progression of radiographic knee OA was similar for older runners and nonrunners. Lumbar spine BMD remained higher in runners, but changes in lumbar BMD were similar for runners and nonrunners over a 9 year period.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bone Density
  • Female
  • Hip Joint / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / pathology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology*
  • Running / physiology*