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March 7, 1986

Long-Distance Running, Bone Density, and Osteoarthritis

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medicine (Drs Lane, Bloch, Wood, and Fries) and Radiology (Drs Jones and Marshall), Stanford (Calif) University School of Medicine.

JAMA. 1986;255(9):1147-1151. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370090069022

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.

(JAMA 1986;255:1147-1151)