Although there are many diseases that may affect us as we get older, osteoporosis is one that is relatively common1. Both men and women can be affected by it, but the lack of estrogen associated with menopause often puts women in danger of this bone disease2. When a person suffers from osteoporosis, their bones become weak and porous so they are more likely to break. In fact, osteoporosis actually means 'porous bones', or bones that are full of holes3.
How Exercise May Help Prevent Osteoporosis
Doing exercise can actually help to keep your bones strong and reduce the likelihood you will suffer from osteoporosis. It stimulates the cells within the bones to produce additional bone cells. You can create the load for this type of exercise by using your own body weight or by using external weights, such as dumbbells or barbells.
Some studies even suggest that it is best if you do 'high-impact' exercises. In other words, providing a little bit of extra strain on the muscle and bone may help to keep your bones strong. Of course, it's always important to exercise safely.
When the health of your bones is measured, the 'bone mineral density' (BMD) is often checked. BMD is checked with a scan and it is a fairly simple procedure.
Which Types of Exercises?
Any type of weight-bearing exercise can help to strengthen the bones. It also improves your general fitness, as well as helping to improve your balance so that falls are less likely to occur.
The following are some examples of beneficial exercises:
- Aerobics class: step, dance, and pump aerobics
- Weightlifting: dumbbells, barbells, machines, body weight exercises
- Running and jogging
- Walking (but less effective than running or jogging)
These are examples of less effective exercises for your bones:
- Swimming or water aerobics
- Other minimal weight-bearing exercise activities
Any type of exercise that uses your legs as the primary means, such as running, is best for your lower body. The bone loss associated with osteoporosis is often seen in the hips and spine, but it is also important to exercise your upper body. Issues such as broken wrists or arms are common with osteoporosis.
It is also important to avoid endurance running, such as cross-country, triathlons or marathons. You should also avoid any type of extreme exercise, as that could do more harm than good. In fact, extreme aerobic exercise may reduce the bone density in women by interfering with the production of estrogen. It is especially worse if you have low intakes of calcium and calories.
If you do exercise heavily or if you are an athlete, watch for any irregularities in your menstrual cycle. Abnormal periods, bone loss and disordered eating are known as 'the female athlete triad'. You can prevent this problem by following a healthy training program and watching your diet carefully to ensure adequate nutrition.
Exercise and Nutrition to Keep Your Bones Healthy during Youth
Your bones do a lot of growing when you are younger and the majority of your healthy bone is built before you are 30 years old. That is why it is important to build an adequate foundation of bone when you are younger, especially if you're a woman.
Not only would you want to eat a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables, but you also want to ensure you are getting enough calcium. Begin exercising when you are younger and continue to do it throughout your entire life. Both men and women will benefit from doing so and it can minimize bone loss.
Admittedly, most of the information about osteoporosis is targeting women but men can also be affected by it.
How Much Daily Calcium Do You Need?
Men and women between the ages of 19-50 should be getting 1000 mg of calcium intake daily. When a woman hits the age of 51, they should increase their intake to 1200 mg daily. When men and women hit the age of 70, they should up their intake to 2000 mg daily.
You can do everything right from the time you're a child and still end up with osteoporosis. It may be possible that you are genetically inclined but living a proper lifestyle can still help to increase your bone health.
Losing Bone during Weight Loss and Dieting
When you lose weight, you may also lose bone mass. It is possible to prevent the loss of bone density, however, by doing some weight-bearing exercises while you are cutting weight. You should also get enough calcium, although that is going to differ according to your circumstances.
If you are a postmenopausal woman and are losing weight using diet alone, make sure that you get enough calcium in your diet. You can reduce your bone density loss during that time
To make sure you are getting enough calcium, we recommend taking the NATURELO plant-based bone strength supplement daily.
1. The Mayo Clinic: Overview of Osteoporosis
2. U.S. Department of Health & Human Resources: Osteoporosis
3. National Institute of Aging: Osteoporosis