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Avoiding Weak Bones
by Michelle Aultman


Give me a few minutes and I'll give you some training ideas to avoid weak bones.

About ten million Americans have osteoporosis, and another 34 million have low bone mass, (osteopenia). A disease with out symptoms, osteoporosis affects about 20 percent of men and 80% of women.

Given that the bones gradually become weaker, they will probably break in a minor fall or, if left untreated, even from simple things like a sneeze. The most frequent fracture sites are the hip, wrist and spine, although any bone in your body can be affected.

A diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis may be scary, leading most people to stop exercise because of fear it will cause fractures. The reality is that those with low bone mass should make sure to exercise regularly.

Being active is shown to not only help alleviate problems with osteoporosis, but slow bone loss once it has already begun. Before beginning a training program, you will need to check with your doctor for guidelines, as the degree of bone loss determines how much exercise is best.

Physicians can assess bone density and fracture risk by scanning the body with a special kind of X-ray machine. In addition to exercise, treatment may include dietary modifications and/or estrogen replacement therapy.

The more knowledge you have relating to this condition, the more you can do to help prevent its onset. To build strength and bone mass, both weight-bearing and resistance training work outs are ideal. Weight-bearing workouts are those that require the bones to fully support your weight against gravity. Examples are walking, jogging, stair climbing, dancing or using an elliptical machine.

Non-weight bearing exercises include biking, swimming, water aerobics and rowing. Weight-bearing activities such as walking less than 3 times a week can benefit the bones.

Strength training places mechanical force (stress) on our bodies, which increases density of bone. Start by lifting light weights, moving in a slow and controlled manner, increasing resistance as you become stronger.

It is usually recommended that individuals with osteoporosis avoid the following types of activity:

  • Step aerobics and high-impact activities including running, jumping, tennis.
  • Activities that involve rounding, bending and twisting of the spine.
  • Moving the legs sideways or across the body, especially when performed against resistance.
  • Rowing machines, trampolines.
  • Any kind of movement that involves pulling on the head and neck.

Exercise Tips:

  • Even if you do not have osteoporosis, you should seek advice from your health care provider before you start a training program.
  • Make sure you warm up before starting and cool down at the conclusion of each exercise session.
  • To find the best benefit to your bone health, combine several different weight-bearing exercises.
  • As you build strength, increase resistance, or weights, instead of repetitions.
  • Remember to drink plenty of water whenever exercising.
  • Vary the types of exercise that you try every week.
  • Combine weight bearing and resistance exercise with aerobic exercises to help increase your overall health.
  • Bring your friend along to help you keep going or in addition to this, bring your family and encourage them to be healthy.
  • Add more physical activity to your day; take the stairs vs. the elevator, park further way, and walk to your co-worker's office as an alternative to emailing.

Put LIVE into action!

L - Load or weight-bearing exercises make a difference for your bones

I - Intensity builds stronger bones

V - Vary the types of exercise and your routine to keep interested

E - Enjoy your exercises. Make exercise fun so you will continue in the future!

Specific factors boost the likelihood of developing osteoporosis. While a few of these risk factors are controllable, others are not. Risk factors that may be controlled are: Sedentary lifestyle, excess intake of protein, sodium, caffeine and/or alcohol, smoking, calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies and taking certain medicines.

Body size (small frame), gender, family history and ethnicity are risk factors that can't be controlled. Women can lose nearly 20 percent of their bone mass in the five to seven years after menopause, causing them to be more subject to osteoporosis.

It's never too early to begin thinking about bone mineral density. About 85-90 percent of adult bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and 20 in boys.

Nutrition and Exercise for Healthy Bones in childhood and Adolescence

Much of the reserve of healthy bone is built in youth and before the age of 30. Women may be more subject to an inadequate foundation process at this time than men. Sufficient calcium intake, a balanced diet with a good amount of fruit and vegetables and load-bearing exercise are the recommendations for solid bone growth when you're young. Then, with continued exercise into old age -- which benefits men too -- bone density decline might be kept to a minimum. Although women are the main focus of information about osteoporosis and low bone density (osteopenia), some men are also seriously afflicted by this problem.

Even if you do all of the right things while becoming an adult and into adulthood, your inherited characteristics - your genes - can present you with bones that are susceptible to osteoporosis. This is even greater reason to maximize your lifestyle to prevent poor bone health.


The Author

Michelle Aultman

Michelle Aultman writes for the elliptical machine blog, her personal hobby blog centered on ideas to prevent osteoporosis through home fitness.

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Copyright 2010 by Michelle Aultman. All rights reserved.

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