Comparisons of Bone Mineral Density Between Recreational and Trained Male Road Cyclists

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Objective:To compare measures of training, performance, body composition, and areal bone mineral density (aBMD) between age-matched recreational and competitively trained male road cyclists.Design:Cross-sectional.Setting:Laboratory.Participants:Male cyclists (N = 28) aged 21–54 years riding more than 3 hours per week.Assessment of Risk Factors:Men who train at high (≥8 h/wk) and moderate volumes (3–8 h/wk).Main Outcome Measures:Areal bone mineral density assessments by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry of the whole body, lumbar spine (L1-L4), right and left hips, maximal oxygen uptake (V[Combining Dot Above]O2max), and training history.Results:Trained cyclists had higher power to weight (5.3 ± 0.4 vs 4.7 ± 0.3 W/kg, P = 0.001), V[Combining Dot Above]O2max (57.2 ± 4.5 vs 53.0 ± 6.1 mL·kg−1·min−1, P = 0.049) and training volume (10.6 ± 2.1 vs 6.3 ± 0.9 h/wk, P < 0.001) than recreational cyclists. Trained cyclists had lower right (0.898 ± 0.090 vs 0.979 ± 0.107 g/cm2, P = 0.047) and left hip aBMD (0.891 ± 0.079 vs 0.973 ± 0.104 g/cm2, P = 0.032). Z-scores identified lumbar (L1-L4) aBMD as osteopenic (−2.5 < Z-score < −1.0) in trained cyclists (−1.39 ± 1.09). Lumbar scans identified 12 trained and 4 recreational cyclists as osteopenic and 3 trained cyclists as osteoporotic.Conclusions:Areal bone mineral density is lower in trained male road cyclists compared with recreational, specifically at the hips. Lumbar aBMD is low in both trained and recreational cyclists. Research is needed to determine the chronic effects of cycling on aBMD and interventions that improve aBMD in this population.Clinical Relevance:This study suggests road cycling may compromise aBMD and potentially increase the likelihood of low-trauma fractures; health care professionals should consider this exposure when exercise prescriptions are designed for patients at-risk for osteopenia/osteoporosis, for example, women and older adults.

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