Is Cycling Bad to the Bone… Literally?

I have frequently heard that by the end of the Tour de France, riders end up losing a significant amount of their bone density due to the amount of time on the bikes, the effort, and the stress of the intensity. Most of the blame has been placed on the non-weight bearing aspect of cycling and that cycling lacks the impact forces needed to stimulate the maintainance of bone density.

An article posted yesterday in the New York Times sheds more light on this. Here are some of the conclusions that this review article brings out:

~Competitive riders even in their 20’s and 30’s have been found to have significant bone loss that borders on osteoporosis.

~Bone loss progresses through the race season and may increase slightly after competion.

~Lighter riders may be more at risk of developing more significant bone loss

~Riders training intensely may have a deficit of calcium even if they are consuming more than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) due to loss in sweat

~Drinking calcium enriched water while exercising may help limit some of the internal chemical environment that causes bone loss

~Racers may want to have periodic bone scans done to determine their bone mineral density (BMD) and fracture risk status

~Strength training year-round may lessen the impacts of bone loss by stimulating bone building

~Lastly, it’s questionable how much this applies to recreational riders who are more apt to include other forms of exercise in their routines, including strength training & walking/running.

I’m sure there will be more to come since this topic and discussion has been around for a while. Cheers, Andy

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