Cyclists Need to Add Bone Mass

August 14, 2013–New York, NY.

Cycling and swimming will not build bone mass, and that could hurt you as you age, putting you at risk for bone fractures.

Team RadioShack’s Andy Schleck in the pack, stage 6, TDF 2013. He suffered a fractured pelvis earlier this year..

Remember when pro cyclist Andy Schleck, a perfectly healthy young male, broke his pelvis earlier this year? It’s a common fracture for cyclists.

The paradox–that cycling is amazingly healthy exercise, but does little to add to bone mass, is unavoidable. Many athletes have left other sports like running, and chose cycling because its a sport that’s relatively easy on the joints.

But if you do a non-weight bearing exercise almost exclusively, you’ll need to make up for the lack of gravity-induced exercise by adding walking, stairs, lawn-mowing, and other weight bearing exercise to your routine, according to a NY Times article published yesterday.

Walking is the simplest solution to this conundrum, which puts those who live in the suburbs and rely on cars for transportation most at risk.

Those who walked or did a similar activity at least 8 hours a week were less likely to suffer hip fractures according to a long ago reported Nurses Health Study. Walking briskly also helped reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

But doctors still prescribe “dynamic impact” exercise, which includes hopping, or jumping rope. or through positive stress such as walking rapidly uphill or upstairs, or standing up on your pedals when you cycle uphill.  This category would include vigorous hiking as well (admin note).

Dr. Vonda Wright, orthopedic surgeon at the Center for Sports Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh also recommends doing special exercises at home, including the prisoner’s squat, using the stairs whenever possible, dancing, and walking in the water.


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