I’ve been studying the last couple of months for my NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) Certification. Today I came upon the chapter related to osteoporosis and exercise. Once finished with the chapter, I was compelled to put the book down and write because what I’ve read has stuck me as very important and something over which, we, ourselves, have great influence. I’ve always known that weight-bearing activities (resistance training, training with weights, weightlifting, whatever you want to call it) improves bone density. Not until I got into this textbook did I become clearer about the benefits of weight-training and the risks osteoporosis poses to our overall health.
Consider these osteoporosis facts which I found terribly frightening, especially as I approach the 50-year milestone mentioned for women several times throughout my research:
Hip fracture risks double every 5 years in postmenopausal women over the age of 50.
Osteoporosis affects more than 25 million people each year resulting in 1.5 million hip fractures, of which only 20% return to normal functional status. If this isn’t enough to scare us into taking steps to prevent the onset of osteoporosis, then I don’t know what will. This means that 80% of those who suffer a hip fracture will not return to normal functional status. I don’t want to be a part of that 80%, so you bet you’re a$$ that I’ll continue my weight training for the rest of my life.
For training to influence bone mass, it will require approximately 6 months of consistent exercise at high enough intensities. Translation is we must employ patience, consistency and time to see results. Additionally, training must become a lifelong event to ward off this condition.
There are many things over which we have control that will reduce our chance of becoming prone to osteoporosis (1). Let’s look at a few of them:
ENSURE ADEQUATE NUTRIENT INTAKE
CALCIUM: Calcium is a major component of bone so it makes sense that you need adequate amounts throughout your life to reach and maintain peak bone mass. Recommended daily amounts:
Women (ages 19-50) / Men (19-70): 1,000 mg/day
Women (50 and over) / Men (70 and over): 1,200 mg/day
Sources: dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, sardines, calcium supplementation with Vitamin DVITAMIN D: Vitamin D is used by your body to absorb calcium. Without Vitamin D, your bones can weaken and increase fracture risk. Recommended daily amounts: 600-800 international units (IU) per day. Sources: fatty fish (tuna, sardines), egg yolk, and the PRIMARY source of vitamin D is sunlight. Supplementation may be necessary for people who don’t get adequate sun exposure
MAGNESIUM: This mineral helps keep the calcium in the bones and out of blood vessels and other soft tissues. Sources: green veggies, almonds, black beans, kidney beans, nut butters.
VITAMIN K: Needed for normal bone metabolism and helps prevent bone loss. It is found in leafy green veggies, i.e., spinach, kale, broccoli, and in green beans and peas.
MOVE YOUR A$$.
People who participate in resistance training have a higher bone mineral density than those who don’t. Like muscle, bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. The best exercise for bones is weight-bearing (training with weights) which forces you to work against gravity. Physical activity also improves balance and coordination, thus helping prevent falls and broken bones that may result from a fall.
Smoking increases bone loss rate. Women who smoke have a lower level of estrogen (the hormone that is necessary for bone rebuilding) than non-smokers. Smokers go through menopause earlier than nonsmokers. There is a direct relationship between lack of estrogen during perimenopause (which can start in early 40s and on average lasts up to 4 years) and menopause and the development of osteoporosis. Any prolonged periods where hormone levels are low and menstrual periods are absent or infrequent contributes to loss of bone mass. (2)
Moderate alcohol consumption can accelerate bone loss and reduce your body’s ability to absorb calcium. In addition, it can have an adverse effect on the hormones that regulate calcium levels and reduce the formation of new bone. Moderation is key when using alcohol. For example, one drink per day for women of all ages and men older than 65 and up to two drinks per day for men age 65 and younger. (2)
THINK YOU’RE TOO OLD TO START? THINK AGAIN!
Meet Ernestine Shepherd, the Guinness World Record Oldest Female Bodybuilder, pictured here. She’s 81 years old and started working out at age 56. She is proof that it’s never too late to start. Ernestine does the same thing day in and day out (consistency) and takes no medications. Depression and anxiety are gone. She is an inspiration to many women (and men!). Her age defining mantra is “Determined, Dedicated, Disciplined to Be Fit!” and “Age is nothing but a number, and you can get fit!” Words to live by!
THE FIRM U CAN HELP YOU
As reported by the National Institute of Health, we know a weight-bearing program is beneficial to bone strength. The NASM textbook (3) cites that for training to influence bone mass, it will require approximately 6 months of consistent exercise at high enough intensities.
How can The Firm U help with this? By working you through a consistent weight-bearing training regimen. All Firm U trainers are certified in working with clients with Types I and II Osteoporosis.
As discussed earlier, we know that adequate vitamin and minerals are essential to bone health. Supplementation may be necessary for those who are low or lacking in any of the vitamins or minerals listed above. Deficiencies can be determined through a blood test.
How can The Firm U help with this? At The Firm U, we order appropriate bloodwork panels (through SpectraCell, the leader in nutritional testing) and review the results with you, making recommendation for any needed supplementation. For the convenience of our clients, we sell pharmaceutical-grade supplements on site and we carry or can get anything you need for optimal health. A few of the brands available at The Firm U: Designs for Health; Life Extension; Rejuvenation Science; Transformation Enzymes, YES (Your Essential Supplements), Douglas Labs, to name a few.
I’m hopeful that you, too, are moved by the facts provided above and the ability we all possess to slow down the onset of osteoporosis allowing us to live an active life free from the danger and worry of living with brittle bones. Would you like more information or are you ready to get started?
(3) National Academy of Sports Medicine. Optimum Performance Training for the Health and Fitness Professional. 2004