By now we all know that Osteoporosis makes bones so thin and porous that they can break during everyday activities like stepping off a curb or picking up a grocery bag.
We’ve all heard that estrogen protects women from bone loss and that we can loose up to 30% of our bone mass in the first 10 years after menopause. And we’ve heard that we should do weight bearing and resistance exercise to help prevent bone loss and promote bone growth.
But what IS weight bearing exercise? What’s the difference between weight bearing and resistance exercise? And what kind of exercise routine should I do to protect my bones?
I hear this all year long. So, here are the answers.
Weight bearing means literally making your bones carry weight. Standing makes your bones carry your body weight. Standing with your grandchild on your shoulders makes your bones carry your weight plus your grandchild’s.
Studies show that weight bearing exercises like walking and jogging that also apply impact to your bones are even more effective
Resistance exercise uses your muscles to apply mechanical forces to your bones like pushing (compression) pulling (tension), twisting (torsion), and bending.
So, the more weight, impact and resistance the better, right? No. Even if your body were a machine made of steel there would be a weight, impact and resistance that would break it.
And we know our bodies are much more fragile than that. Common sense must rule.
Walk, jog, jump rope, dance, pull on a rope, push on a wall, wring out a towel, and bend bones with weight lifting exercises. But do it safely. Do it in moderation. Stay in your comfort zone. Start with a comfortable amount and build up slowly over time. Take breaks between shorter intervals of training. Studies show that those break times may be when bones get stimulated to grow.
Studies also show that site-specific exercises are very effective. So, do exercises that involve the 3 areas most at risk for Osteoporotic fracture, the spine the hip and the wrist?
Walking loads your spine and your legs including the hip joints. Wrist curls and wringing a towel work your wrists and forearms.
Do any weight-training resistance exercises every other day because your muscles need time to recover. A starter routine might be 20 minutes or more of brisk walking every other day and weight resistance training on the days in between.
But make sure you talk to your doctor about your particular exercise needs and limitations.
They vary greatly from person to person.
So why not use Osteoporosis month to set an example for the women in your family of any age because it’s never too early or too late to start working out your bones.