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.
Lane NE, Bloch DA, Jones HH, Marshall WH, Wood PD, Fries JF. Long-Distance Running, Bone Density, and Osteoarthritis. JAMA. 1986;255(9):1147-1151. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370090069022