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Running performance in a timed city run and body composition: A cross-sectional study in more than 3000 runners

Herrmann, François R., Graf, Christophe, Karsegard, Véronique L., Mareschal, Julie, Achamrah, Najate, Delsoglio, Marta, Schindler, Maximilian, Pichard, Claude, Genton, Laurence
Nutrition 2019 v.61 pp. 1-7
bioelectrical impedance, body mass index, cross-sectional studies, fat mass index, lean body mass, men, women
The importance of body composition for running performance is unclear in the general population. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether body composition influences running speed and whether it is a better predictor of running speed than body mass index (BMI).The study included 1353 women (38.2 ± 12.1 y of age) and 1771 men (39.6 ± 12.1 y of age) who underwent, for the first time, a measurement of body composition by bioelectrical impedance analysis between 1999 and 2016, before a timed run occurring annually in Geneva. The running distances and times were converted to average speed (km/h). Body composition was expressed as sex-specific quartiles, where quartile 1 (lowest values) was the reference quartile. The relationships between speed and BMI or body composition were analyzed by multivariate linear regressions.Multivariate regressions showed that the higher the fat mass index (FMI) quartile, the lower the running speed in women and men (all P < 0.001). In men, a fat-free mass index (FFMI) in quartile 4 (>20 kg/m2) was associated with a poor running performance (r = –0.50, P < 0.001), whereas in women, an FFMI in quartile 2 or 3 (15–16.4 kg/m2) was associated with a higher running speed (r = 0.23, P = 0.04; r = 0.28, P = 0.01, respectively). Body composition predicted speed better than BMI in women (R2 = 26.8% versus 14.4%) and men (R2 = 29.8% versus 25.4%).Running speed is negatively associated with BMI and FMI in both sexes. Body composition is a better predictor of running performance than BMI.