The Effects of Cycling on Bone Health in Senior Athletes

Document Type


Publication Date



Physical Therapy


Long-term participation in cycling has been shown to negatively impact bone health in male cyclists aged 25 to 60. No investigations exist for older cyclists. Purpose: Our purpose was to (1) identify prevalence of osteoporosis and osteopenia in senior athlete cyclists (CSA) and compare that prevalence to senior athletes who participate in other sports (SA) and the general population (GP), (2) determine any influence of exercise habits on the prevalence of osteoporosis or osteopenia in CSA and (3) compare grip strength of CSA with poor bone health to healthy cyclists and SA. Subjects: 2,998 (74 CSA, 2,924 SA) Methods: Athletes completed a health and sport history and grip strength assessment. Inclusion criterion were age 50 or older and registration in the National Senior Games between 2011 and 2019. Athletes were designated as CSA if they were registered for only cycling events. All other athletes were designated as SA. Results: Osteoporosis and osteopenia prevalence in CSA was lower than the GP for both genders (ps<0.001). When compared to SA, there was no difference in osteoporosis prevalence for male CSA (p=0.435) although female CSA showed greater prevalence (p=0.031). No differences were found in osteopenia for either gender between CSA and SA (ps>0.05). Male CSA with low bone health reported less strength training than those with no bone health diagnosis (p<0.001). No other differences in exercise habits were seen between CSA with or without a bone health diagnosis. Female CSA with low bone health demonstrated lower grip strength than female SA (p=0.049). This relationship was not seen in men. Conclusion: Our findings suggest the potential for decreased bone health in competitive aging cyclists though, due to our small sample size further research is indicated.

First Advisor

Becca Jordre

Second Advisor

Adam Ladwig

Research Area

Physical Therapy

This document is currently not available here.