Category Archives: Biking

Comment: Cycling and bone health: a systematic review


Bike racing, recreational riding, impact sport and bone health.

Cycling has been shown to confer considerable benefits in terms of health, leading to reductions in death rates principally due to cardiovascular improvements and adaptation. Given the disparity between the benefits of cycling on cardiovascular fitness and previous research finding that cycling may not be beneficial for bone health, Hugo Olmedillas and colleagues performed a systematic review of the literature. They concluded that road cycling does not appear to confer any significant osteogenic benefit. They postulate that the cause of this is that, particularly at a competitive level, riders spend long periods of time in a weight-supported position on the bike. Training programs may be supplemented with impact loading to preserve bone health; however, the small increased risk of soft tissue injury must also be considered. See related study.

Carmont MR
BMC Med 2012
PMID: 23256478 | Free Full Text

Review: Cyclists Have Low Bone Density


Cycling and bone health: a systematic review.

Cycling is considered to be a highly beneficial sport for significantly enhancing cardiovascular fitness in individuals, yet studies show little or no corresponding improvements in bone mass.
A scientific literature search on studies discussing bone mass and bone metabolism in cyclists was performed to collect all relevant published material up to April 2012. Descriptive, cross-sectional, longitudinal and interventional studies were all reviewed. Inclusion criteria were met by 31 studies.
Heterogeneous studies in terms of gender, age, data source, group of comparison, cycling level or modality practiced among others factors showed minor but important differences in results. Despite some controversial results, it has been observed that adult road cyclists participating in regular training have low bone mineral density in key regions (for example, lumbar spine). Conversely, other types of cycling (such as mountain biking), or combination with other sports could reduce this unsafe effect. These results cannot yet be explained by differences in dietary patterns or endocrine factors.
From our comprehensive survey of the current available literature it can be concluded that road cycling does not appear to confer any significant osteogenic benefit. The cause of this may be related to spending long hours in a weight-supported position on the bike in combination with the necessary enforced recovery time that involves a large amount of time sitting or lying supine, especially at the competitive level.

Olmedillas H, González-Agüero A, Moreno LA, Casajus JA…
BMC Med 2012
PMID: 23256921 | Free Full Text

Video: Dr. Hofflich “Osteoporosis Update 2013” – Stein Institute for Research on Aging

Here is a nice talk by Dr. Heather Hofflich from May 15, 2013. She’s an Associate Professor of Medicine at UCSD. She gives an overview of osteoporosis and discusses the causes and therapies used to treat it. She also takes a look at recent controversies in treatment plans and vitamin usage.

One thing that bothers me about her talk is that she claims Teriparatide is the only thing in the world that builds bone by increasing osteoblast activity. I’ve posted many studies that found increases in osteoblasts from a variety of things. She also didn’t mention any other potentially helpful dietary supplements besides Calcium and Vitamin D. Like most MDs, she is probably unaware of anything that is not FDA approved.

Beta Blockers May Blunt Exercise Benefits


β-Adrenergic receptor blockade blunts postexercise skeletal muscle mitochondrial protein synthesis rates in humans.

β-Adrenergic receptor (AR) signaling is a regulator of skeletal muscle protein synthesis and mitochondrial biogenesis in mice. We hypothesized that β-AR blockade blunts postexercise skeletal muscle mitochondrial protein synthesis rates in adult humans. Six healthy men (mean ± SD: 26 ± 6 yr old, 39.9 ± 4.9 ml·kg(-1)·min(-1) peak O(2) uptake, 26.7 ± 2.0 kg/m(2) body mass index) performed 1 h of stationary cycle ergometer exercise (60% peak O(2) uptake) during 1) β-AR blockade (intravenous propranolol) and 2) administration of saline (control). Skeletal muscle mitochondrial, myofibrillar, and sarcoplasmic protein synthesis rates were assessed using [(2)H(5)]phenylalanine incorporation into skeletal muscle proteins after exercise. The mRNA content of signals for mitochondrial biogenesis was determined using real-time PCR. β-AR blockade decreased mitochondrial (from 0.217 ± 0.076 to 0.135 ± 0.031%/h, P < 0.05), but not myofibrillar or sarcoplasmic, protein synthesis rates. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator-1α mRNA was increased ∼2.5-fold (P < 0.05) at 5 h compared with 1 h postexercise but was not influenced by β-AR blockade. We conclude that decreased β-AR signaling during cycling can blunt the postexercise increase in mitochondrial protein synthesis rates without affecting mRNA content.

Robinson MM, Bell C, Peelor FF, Miller BF
Am. J. Physiol. Regul. Integr. Comp. Physiol. Aug 2011
PMID: 21613574 | Free Full Text

Given that increased muscle tends to increase bone, this is somewhat negative, even though there is some evidence that beta blockers plus exercise is additive for bone.

Alendronate + Exercise Prevents All Bone Loss During Spaceflight


Bisphosphonates as a supplement to exercise to protect bone during long-duration spaceflight.

We report the results of alendronate ingestion plus exercise in preventing the declines in bone mass and strength and elevated levels of urinary calcium and bone resorption in astronauts during 5.5 months of spaceflight.
This investigation was an international collaboration between NASA and the JAXA space agencies to investigate the potential value of antiresorptive agents to mitigate the well-established bone changes associated with long-duration spaceflight.
We report the results from seven International Space Station (ISS) astronauts who spent a mean of 5.5 months on the ISS and who took an oral dose of 70 mg of alendronate weekly starting 3 weeks before flight and continuing throughout the mission. All crewmembers had available for exercise a treadmill, cycle ergometer, and a resistance exercise device. Our assessment included densitometry of multiple bone regions using X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and quantitative computed tomography (QCT) and assays of biomarkers of bone metabolism.
In addition to pre- and post-flight measurements, we compared our results to 18 astronauts who flew ISS missions and who exercised using an early model resistance exercise device, called the interim resistance exercise device, and to 11 ISS astronauts who exercised using the newer advanced resistance exercise device (ARED). Our findings indicate that the ARED provided significant attenuation of bone loss compared with the older device although post-flight decreases in the femur neck and hip remained. The combination of the ARED and bisphosphonate attenuated the expected decline in essentially all indices of altered bone physiology during spaceflight including: DXA-determined losses in bone mineral density of the spine, hip, and pelvis, QCT-determined compartmental losses in trabecular and cortical bone mass in the hip, calculated measures of fall and stance computed bone strength of the hip, elevated levels of bone resorption markers, and urinary excretion of calcium.
The combination of exercise plus an antiresoptive drug may be useful for protecting bone health during long-duration spaceflight.

Leblanc A, Matsumoto T, Jones J, Shapiro J…
Osteoporos Int Jul 2013
PMID: 23334732

Biking May Help Bones Affected by High Cortisol


Effect of physiological exercise on osteocalcin levels in subjects with adrenal incidentaloma.

In the present study, we have evaluated whether physical exercise affect low osteocalcin concentrations observed in patients with subclinical hypercortisolism.
Sixteen patients (10 men and 6 women, age 38-55 yr) with adrenal incidentaloma were studied. Fifteen healthy volunteers matched for age (range 35-47 yr) were used as controls. Subjects were submitted to a 8-week exercise-training program with cycle-ergometer for 1 h/day 3-4 days/week at 60% of their individual VO2 max. Before and after this period, resting venous serum osteocalcin and GH concentrations were measured in the same batch. The blood sampling after 8 weeks of the training program were performed after resting for one day. All patients and controls underwent also the following endocrine evaluation: serum cortisol, plasma ACTH.
Our results demonstrate a significant increase of osteocalcin after physical exercise and a positive correlation between osteocalcin and GH. This later might suggest a role of GH in the increased osteocalcin secretion.
The data of the present study suggest a positive effect of physical exercise on bone metabolism in patients with adrenal incidentaloma.

Coiro V, Volpi R, Cataldo S, Magotti MG…
J. Endocrinol. Invest. Apr 2012
PMID: 22652825

It is surprising the exercise helped considering the form of exercise was cycling – a non-weight bearing exercise.

Biking Lowers Bone Density in Men; Cyclists 7x More Likely to Have Osteopenia


Participation in road cycling vs running is associated with lower bone mineral density in men.

The effects of regular non-weight-bearing (NWB) exercise on bone health are largely unknown. The objective of the study was to determine the effects of participation in NWB sports on bone health in adult male recreational athletes. Male cyclists (NWB; n = 27) and runners (weight-bearing [WB]; n = 16) aged 20 to 59 years were recruited from the community. Whole-body and regional bone mineral content and bone mineral density (BMD), and body composition were assessed using dual x-ray absorptiometry. Bone formation and resorption markers, and hormones were measured in serum. Bone-loading history was estimated from a sports participation history questionnaire. Nutrient intake and current physical activity were estimated from 7-day written logs. The NWB athletes had significantly lower BMD of the whole body and spine than the WB athletes, despite having similar age, weight, body mass index, body composition, hormonal status, current activity level, and nutrient intakes. Sixty-three percent of NWB athletes had osteopenia of the spine or hip, compared with 19% of WB athletes. 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.

Rector RS, Rogers R, Ruebel M, Hinton PS
Metab. Clin. Exp. Feb 2008
PMID: 18191053

Minimal Effect on Bones From Triathlon Training


Competitive season of triathlon does not alter bone metabolism and bone mineral status in male triathletes.

This longitudinal study evaluated the effects of a triathlon season on bone metabolism and hormonal status. Seven male competitive triathletes (mean age 19.3 years, range 18 – 20) with 5.0 +/- 0.3 years of competition experience were tested twice during the season: at the beginning of training and 32 weeks later. Total and regional bone mineral density (BMD) was determined by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, while bone turnover was evaluated by specific biochemical markers: bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (B-ALP), osteocalcin, and urinary type I collagen C-telopeptide. In addition, sexual, calciotropic and somatotropic hormones were also analyzed. After 32 weeks, a BMD increase was found at the lumbar spine (1.9 %; p = 0.031) and skull (3.1 %; p = 0.048), while no variation was observed for total body or at the proximal femur. The B-ALP level decreased (-23.2 %; p = 0.031), but no variation was found for the other bone markers. 1.25 (OH) (2)D3, IGF-1 and the bioavailability IGF-1 index (IGF-1/IGFBP-3) increased by 18.3 % (p = 0.047), 29 % (p = 0.048), 33 % (p = 0.011), respectively, while PTH, testosterone, IGFBP-3 and cortisol concentrations were unchanged. In conclusion, the triathlon season had a moderately favourable effect on BMD, although a slowing down of bone formation activity was observed. No variation in hormonal levels was observed that could have limited the effects of exercise on bone tissue.

Maïmoun L, Galy O, Manetta J, Coste O…
Int J Sports Med Apr 2004
PMID: 15088249