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.
Osteoporosis International, Vol. 2, No.
2, March 1992
Hospital for Special Surgery, New York,
Prevention Institute, Medical College of Georgia, 30912-3710 Augusta,
31 January 1991 Accepted: 16 September 1991
Abstract Part of the reduction in bone density
observed in older people is due to disuse rather than the aging process itself. While some mechanical stress is needed to
maintain optimal bone density, it is not clear just which types of exercise are most valuable or whether appropriate exercise
might reduce the need for estrogen therapy in postmenopausal women.
Cross-sectional studies. Physical activity, aerobic fitness, and strength have all been correlated with bone density. Young people who use
a specific part of the body in vigorous exercise exhibit enhanced bone density in that part of the body, but not necessarily
in other regions. Older people who have been active for many years seem to exhibit generally enhanced bone density.
Prospective studies. Most regimens which used vigorous aerobic and strength training enhanced bone density, but walking is relatively
ineffective for prevention of postmenopausal bone loss. Most studies using specific bone-loading exercise
have shown substantial increases in bone density at the specific sites loaded. Elderly people seem capable of responding
favorably to vigorous exercise. No direct comparisons of exercisand estrogen therapy have been reported.
Excessive exercise. Extremely high volumes of exercise may overwhelm a person's adaptive capacity, leading to stress fractures. For example,
young women athletes who suffer from menstrual dysfunction exhibit reduced bone density and musculoskeletal disorders.
Clinical implication. Although the evidence is far from conclusive, an exercise regimen should probably include vigorous total body exercise,
including strength and aerobic training.
Running hard and short—1 to 2 miles. Which surface matters little
unless there is existing joint soreness-pain. Hard surface causes more jarring
which is good for bone and cartilage development. Short distances reduces risks
of deterioration due to repetitive stress. Run hard as possible; it is ideal
for cardiovascular development. Moreover, working up a good sweat eliminates
salt and excess water, and thereby helps to lower blood pressure.
Of concern for me is varicose veins, which I have moderately in the knee area.
Therefore I run on the beach or on a treadmill. I run once to twice a
week. Weight training 5 days a week 1.5 hours, of which 20 minutes is for the
abdomen and gluts (butt). I do high reps, 15-25, and 5 sets. I swim vigorously 25 laps twice weekly.