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Purpose: Weight-bearing activities such as running have been shown to be osteogenic. However, investigations have also shown that running may lead to site-specific deficiencies in bone mineral density (BMD) as well as overall low BMD. The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate and compare the BMD of female and male collegiate cross-country runners with non-running controls. In addition, energy availability and disordered eating attitudes and behaviors were assessed. Methods: BMD of 60 collegiate cross-country runners and 47 BMI and age-matched non-running controls were measured via DXA scans. Participants completed a Block 2014 Food Frequency Questionnaire and Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire. Results: Controlling for fat-free mass (FFM), male runners showed greater BMD at the femoral neck (0.934 ± 0.029 vs. 0.866 ± 0.028 g cm2, p < 0.05), total hip (1.119 ± 0.023 vs. 1.038 ± 0.021 g cm2, p < 0.05), and whole body (1.119 ± 0.023 vs. 1.038 ± 0.021 g cm2, p < 0.05) than male controls. The female runners had greater whole-body BMD than female controls (1.143 ± 0.018 vs. 1.087 ± 0.022 g cm2, p < 0.05). Runners scored significantly higher than controls in dietary restraint (1.134 ± 1.24 vs. 0.451 ± 0.75, p < 0.05), male runners were significantly higher than male controls in eating concern (1.344 ± 1.08 vs. 0.113 ± 0.27, p < 0.05) and female runners were significantly higher than male runners in shape concern (1.056 ± 1.27 vs. 0.242 ± 0.31, p < 0.05). Forty-two percent of the male runners and 29% of female runners had an energy availability of less than 30 kcals kg−1FFM. Conclusion: It appears that distance running has beneficial effects on whole-body BMD and site-specific areas. Further research is warranted to further clarify the health effects of eating behaviors and EA of distance runners.

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McCormack, William P., et al. “Bone Mineral Density, Energy Availability, and Dietary Restraint in Collegiate Cross-Country Runners and Non-Running Controls.” European Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 119, no. 8, Aug. 2019, pp. 1747–1756.