Long-distance running has a beneficial effect on bone mineral quality, according to a new Spanish study.
Researchers from Camilo José Cela University (UCJC) analysed the effect of training to compete in endurance races (from 10km to marathons) on the stiffness index — a variable that is directly related to bone quality. The results confirm that the greater the race distance that is trained, the better.
According to the researchers, such training could be used to help prevent the progressive decline in bone mineral density that occurs with age.
For the study, which has been published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, the research team recruited 122 marathon runners and 81 half marathon and 10km runners, and measured changes in the mechanical properties of the calcaneus, a bone in the foot that forms the heel.
These values were compared with those of a control group of sedentary individuals of a similar age.
“The results showed that the endurance runners had a greater stiffness index than the sedentary individuals,” lead author Beatriz Lara, a member of the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at UCJC, told science news website SINC.
The improved stiffness index was observed in both the male and female runners.
“It was also possible to confirm a dose-response relationship, meaning that greater amounts of training correspond to a greater improvement in the mineral density of the calcaneus,” Lara added.
The scientists concluded that training for endurance races is effective in producing physical changes in the calcaneus.
“The volume of ground reaction forces which occur during endurance running might induce the adaptation of the calcaneus bone,” they wrote.