Tag Archives: osteoporosis running

Why running is better than cycling


Paavo Nurmi at the 1920 Olympics

I could go on and on and on about running, and why it is such a great exercise, if not the best. To further illustrate how great it is, I thought I’d compare it to another endurance cardio exercise, cycling. According to
Participation in road cycling vs running is associated with lower bone mineral density in men:

Cyclists were 7 times more likely to have osteopenia of the spine than runners, controlling for age, body weight, and bone-loading history. There were no group differences in serum markers of bone turnover. Based on the results of this study, current bone loading is an important determinant of whole-body and lumbar spine BMD. Therefore, bone-loading activity should be sustained during adulthood to maintain bone mass.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean that cycling is “bad” for you, it just means that running is better for maintaining bone density, which can help prevent fractures. This is because running is a weight-bearing exercise, and cycling isn’t. All that pounding into the ground stimulates bone mineralization and muscle strength. In experienced runners, their legs have adapted to all this pounding.

If you can’t run due to injuries, jumping rope or T’ai Chi can have similar benefits. If you’re a cyclist, there’s no reason to give it up, just occasionally cross-train with running or other weight-bearing exercises.