Today’s post is quite close to my heart. As a trainer to countless women over 50 that are either at risk for or have been diagnosed with osteoporosis/oseteopenia, I’ve seen first hand how it can impact their lives. Now I’ve got a bone to pick with all you ladies over 25 out there who are not taking your bone health more seriously. Ok, bad joke, but I promise it will be the last one. The reason is because this is a very serious matter and needs to be at the forefront of anyone’s overall wellness plan. Most women that I talk to don’t even give their bone mass a second thought. This is a huge mistake!
In North America, osteoporosis affects about 10% of the population, with average bone loss measuring about 1% per year after age 35, 3% per year during the first five years of menopause and 1% per year there after. So why do we care about this ?
Osteoporosis is a major health threat for the aging population. An estimated 10 million Americans have the disease and almost 34 million have low bone mass, putting them at risk for spine and hip fractures. Women are more likely to suffer from it than men.
Our skeleton is what enables us to stand erect and achieve extraordinary feats of artistic grace, athletic endeavor and physical endurance. It supports surrounding tissues and protects vital organs and other soft tissues of the body. The skeleton gives attachment to the muscles, providing leverage and assisting in body movement. It is also the storage site for many important minerals and lipids. Our skeleton along with our muscles give us our shape and to a large degree this is something we can control.
Drugs and Supplements to Combat Bone Loss
Annual sales of prescription bisphosphonates, the most popular drugs to combat bone loss, exceed $3.5 billion. This is amazing statistic and one that is sure to grow. Two new studies show the bones of some post-menopausal women who take bisphosphonates (Actonel, Boniva, Fosamax, Reclast) to ward off osteoporosis can stop rejuvenating and become brittle after long-term use.
Those using some of these medications for four to five years may be at risk for sudden fractures of the femur, the main thigh bone. I have a few personal training clients that have reported the relief they felt from going off the drugs and that it did not affect subsequent bone density scans.
So is it worth it? To put your fate exclusively in the hands of prescription companies? Do they really have your best interests in mind?
Many people concerned with bone loss take calcium and magnesium supplementation to argument their efforts. Does it work? Well yes and no. Skeletal tissue serves the body as a major calcium storage facility; in fact it contains 500-1000 times more calcium than all other tissues combined. But healthy strong bones also contain many other minerals including phosphorus, fluorine, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, silicon and vanadium. Ideally a multiple mineral compound featuring a dozen or more essential minerals and trace elements should be taken throughout the day to ensure an optimal range and reliable intake of minerals (supply the demand).
Is Weight Training The Best Option For Bone Loss?
To a large degree, the composition of bone is regulated by the amount of strain or pressure on the bone. This is a function of both gravity and the influence of muscle contraction.More strain leads to greater mineral integration and a favorable influence on bone density. Inactivity is harmful to our bones and accelerates porosity and decay. As muscles shorten they force movement by tugging on bones through attachment by tendons.
Weight-bearing exercise, the ONLY safe and natural way to create and maintain bone mass.
Swimming, cycling, running, dancing and aerobics are fine for improving heart and lung capacity, and many sports provide excellent recreational enjoyment. But aerobic exercise alone provides minimal growth stimulation, as the mechanical “pull” of muscle attached to bone is almost always countered by cortisol (tissue wasting) elevation, a decline in testosterone and massive oxidative stress caused by breathing in high volumes of oxygen.
What is needed is a controlled and progressive strength training program aimed at maximizing the development of skeletal muscle, cartilage, connective tissue, ligaments, tendons and bone mass.
How to get started on a weight training program?
Your program must consist of lifting heavy weights that are consistent with your current needs and abilities. The range of training options are highly individual but should stress the body effectively. Read some of my recent posts to get a clear idea of how to set up a weight training program and how hard you should be working to get the best results.
It’s no wonder osteoporosis is so prevalent, as the average North American adult drinks too much alcohol, smokes too many cigarettes and eats too much refined food. Heavy metals, antacids and many medications cause extensive bone loss. The consumption of high fat denatured protein, damaged by extended exposure to heat, excessive salt and even milk consumption can all contribute. The average diet is just too acidic. And the #1 risk factor? Inactivity.
As we age without any opposition, bones start to deminerialize after about age 30 and even sooner! In women this process accelerates as estrogen levels decrease. It’s time we all take our health into our own hands and use the best natural anti-aging product and osteoporosis prevention prescription on the market today- weight training.