Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport

Document Type



Purpose: The physiological responses and adaptations experienced by novices engaging in cross-country cycling have received little attention in the scientific literature. Such endeavors typically involve a sizeable increase in physical activity for most individuals, but the acute and chronic effects of such an endurance feat are not well understood. Similarly, research shows that experienced cyclists often demonstrate osteoporosis in the spine, linked to many years of training accompanied by little or no weight bearing stress upon the axial skeleton. Greater understanding of these issues is needed, as long distance cycling has increased in popularity in recent years, and exercise professionals increasingly supervise their training. This study explored the effects of 60 days of cycling upon measures of aerobic capacity (AC), bone mineral density (BMD) and body mass composition (BMC) of novice cyclists, as well as in a group of controls.Methods: Five novice cyclists (21.0.2  0.71 yr, 187.842  6.50 cm, 82.84  5.42 kg) completed laboratory testing prior to and after the cross-country trek, as did controls (20.2  1.79 yr, 178.31  4.17 cm, 78.34  7.55 kg). Members of both groups visited the laboratory on two occasions, 60 days apart. Each completed a graded exercise test and DEXA scan, assessing measures of AC, BMD, and BMC. Two-way repeated measures ANOVA were used for statistical analysis. Results: For AC (VO2 max), significant differences were found pre-post within both groups (F(1,8) = 5.418, p = iii 0.048), with the cyclists improving and the controls decreasing in AC. Non-significant differences were found pre- and post-ride for the following measures of BMD: whole body (F(1,8) = 0.34, p = 0.57) and lumbar region (F(1,8) = 0.72, p = 0.42. Measures for whole body and lumbar region were decreased following the ride across the country. Significant differences for BMC were found between the following measures: left arm fat mass (F(1,8) = 8.42, p = 0.02, left arm lean mass (F(1,8) = 6.16, p = 0.04), left arm fat percentage (F(1,8) = 38.72, p = 0.00), right arm lean mass (F(1,8) = 6.32, p = 0.04), right arm fat percentage (F(1,8) = 41.78, p = 0.00), trunk fat mass (F(1,8) = 5.45, p = 0.048), right leg fat mass (F(1,8) = 9.04, p = .02), and total fat mass (F(1,8) = 13.48, p = 0.01). Conclusions: These results have scientific and practical relevance given the few studies on the effects of cross-country cycling upon physiological fitness in novice cyclists. These findings suggest that novice cyclists significantly increased their aerobic capacities as an adaptation to an extended ride across the United States. These results suggest nonsignificant changes in BMD occurred among these cyclists. These participants also demonstrated significant changes in some BMC measures. More study is needed on the impact of prolonged cycling upon measures of AC, BMD, and BMC among novice cyclists.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Don Hoover


Anatomy | Physical Therapy | Sports Sciences