Why do you work out? The most common answer is usually to look better naked.–Come on, you know it’s true. The number one reason the majority of us work out is to have a better physical appearance. A smaller number of you would answer that you work out to be stronger or perform better in a race or competition. An even smaller number might even respond that they work out to keep their heart healthy and cardiovascular system healthy to live longer. Would any of you say you work out to make your bones stronger? You may not answer with that response, but when you do weight bearing exercises you are making your bones stronger and this is incredibly important especially for women.
Most women reach their peak bone density between ages 25 and 30. After this time period without weight bearing activity bone density will slowly begin to decline. During menopause, bone density rapidly declines as much as 20% (just during the menopause years and even more after) in some individuals. Doing weight bearing exercises can stop this decline. Bones build very similarly to muscle. When bones undergo impact, we create microbreaks stimulating cells called osteoclasts to come in and remove broken bone tissue; allowing osteoblasts to come in and lay down stronger bone tissue. Stronger bone tissue = higher bone density.
The first step to fighting decline in bone density is to build up as much bone density as possible in your youth. Studies have shown females who do weight bearing activities have much higher bone density than their non active peers. If you build up higher bone density in your youth, you can have strong bones despite the natural decrease in density as you age.
Running and walking help build bone density in the hips and spine. People who have been active in athletics as children have higher bone density in their pelvis, leg bones, and spine like the graph of soccer athletes above shows. So if you walk places and/or are a runner great job! You are protecting your body against the most common fractured area found in those with osteoporosis, the hips.
The second most common area for bone fractures in women with osteoporosis is the wrists. That is because too many woman do not do upper body weight bearing activities. Just like the soccer players in the above study, despite their intense training, they do not have any benefits in arm bone density. Gymnasts on the other hand, who spend a large amount of time walking around on their hands have a much higher bone density than other females their age!
If you haven’t done much weight bearing exercise in your life, don’t fret! It is never too late to start, but it is IMPORTANT that you START! After menopause it is very rare to increase bone density, but you can delay the decline and maintain what bone density you do have through weight bearing exercise, you can also find some others menopause symptoms online to learn more about this.
So hit those your weights! You don’t have to necessarily have a gym membership. Body weight exercises like pushups ( pushup rows, push up position lat pulls) lateral hand walks, and hand step ups are great ways to build bone density in the wrists. If these exercises bother your wrists, you probably need them! Yoga is also a great way to fight osteoporosis and bone fractures. Not only does it help build bone density from weight bearing activity, but it also helps with balance to prevent falls.
The good news is to get all these benefits you don’t have to do anything different than you are already doing to get that perfect bod! If you aren’t exercising though, maybe this will be the reason to convince you to get out there and take care of your body 😉