Is Bicycling Bad for Your Bones? – — I knew it, I knew it!

In his study, the bone density of 32 male, competitive bike riders, most in their late 20s and early 30s, was compared to that of age-matched controls, men who were active but not competitive athletes. Bone scans showed that almost all of the cyclists had significantly less bone density in the spine than the control group. Some of the racers, young men in their 20s, had osteopenia in their spines, a medical condition only one step below full-blown osteoporosis. “To find guys in their twenties with osteopenia was surprising and pretty disturbing,” Smathers says.

  1. Bryan P. Carney says:

    Of course, too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

    This is a great excuse for me, though. Each year, since I stopped riding my bike two hours a day, I have found numerous reasons why I am not too lazy to ride. I suspect that some competitive bicyclists, who’s lives have been shaped by bike riding, whose muscular-skeletal systems have adapted to different centers of gravity, who don’t resemble the majority of recreational bike riders, are sufficient reason to drive the car two blocks for ice cream.

    Nevertheless, I think pro bikers, bodybuilders, skiers, and athletes in general are nutty.

  2. bobbo, long time bicyclist says:

    and those narrow seats can damage the nerve down there as well. Everything is a balance. It used to be recommended for runners to ride as there was much less shock to the joints.

    Moderation in all things. I wonder though–no rumours in the sport concerning weak bones. Wonder what Lance had said about this?

  3. bobbo, making a quick check says:

    Google doesn’t show a connection even on the Lance Armstrong Website against cancer including bone cancer–no link to the hazards of bike riding.

    Hot Tip–to reduce risk of broken bones, avoid falls that may break bones. Brilliant!!!!!!

  4. Chris Mac says:

    Fuckin rights dude.. We should all be buildin pyramids

  5. Zybch says:

    The key thing here is:

    “the bone density of 32 male, ***competitive*** bike riders”

    Regular people who are evolved enough to not make EVERYTHING a competition and push themselves too hard will not be the same as these idiotic, win-at-any-cost wankers.

  6. RTaylor says:

    Getting hit by a SUV isn’t so good on the bones either.

  7. dSLR Dad says:

    This isn’t new. Similar studies came out when I was in high school ‘trying’ to ride competitively in the early 90’s. Even then they were saying you had to do strength training to improve your bone density.

    I’m still waiting for the study that also says that it stunt’s your growth at an early age.

  8. Special Ed says:

    I live at the beach and have a cruiser. Everytime I ride it Mr. Happy falls asleep. I have rubbed No-Doz on it, I tried to slap it awake. Must be the seat…

  9. Zybch says:

    Or the owner…

  10. moss says:

    Not such a surprise. Though cycling was my sports passion for decades, I gave it up for more walking and hiking as I got to be an ancient geezer.

    Weight-bearing exercise is always better for your physical well-being.

    So, John – do you partake of any exercise other than uncorking? strolling through airports? thumb-typing? 🙂

  11. Personality says:

    You mean all those spinning dorks, who spend hours EACH day with their spine curved over a bike, at my gym are getting osteoporosis? Cool. They seem snobish anyways.

  12. RTaylor says:

    I think JCD adopted the view of Bill Gates, that intentional exercise if bad for you. I know I have.

  13. madtruckman says:

    Excercise and bike all you want. Guess what?? YOU’RE STILL GONNA DIE!!!! Has anyone ever done a study on how the stress of excercise and trying to figure out how to eat right affects the human body??

  14. Li says:

    I wonder if a recombinant bike will be less damaging, due to the less prone position.

    #8 Get a new seat. Try this one; I’ve never had any numbness with that saddle, even after long rides, and it supports the cheeks better to boot.

  15. dusanmal says:

    @#15 Damaging bit is competitive overdoing part and they do not allow recom’ bikes in competition… As any other competitive sport is damaging to those who pursue it to the edge.

    @#8 Another good saddle idea:

    haven’t used anything else since I got mine dozen years ago… Done at least one “century” ride each year on it, and all the rest.

  16. qb says:

    Osteopenia is much more common among all endurance athletes.

  17. tjspiel says:

    Interesting that the cyclist pictured is a triathlete, – a group whose bone density actually improves as they train.

  18. brendal says:

    Yay! No more bikes on the road! Thank you, John!


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