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An estimated 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and another 34 million have low bone mass, a condition which is referred to as osteopenia. Osteoporosis, a disease without outward symptoms, affects about 20 percent of men and 80 percent of women. Because bones gradually become weaker, they may break in a minor fall or, if left untreated, even from simple things like a sneeze. The most common fracture sites include the hip, wrist and spine, although any bone in your body could be affected.
A diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis could be scary, leading lots of people to stop exercising due to fear it will cause fractures. The simple truth is that people with low bone mass should try to exercise on a regular basis.
Being active is shown to not only help alleviate problems with osteoporosis, but slow bone loss once it has already begun. But before beginning a fitness program, you will need to consult your doctor for guidelines, as degree of bone loss determines exactly what exercise is best.
Physicians can assess bone density and fracture risk by scanning the body by using a special type of X-ray machine. Along with exercise, treatment may include dietary modifications and/or estrogen replacement therapy.
The more you know about this condition, the more you can do to help prevent its onset. To create strength and bone mass, both weight-bearing and strength-training workouts are ideal. Weight-bearing exercises are the ones that require the bones to completely support your weight against gravity. Examples are walking, jogging, stair climbing, dancing or using an elliptical exercise machine. Non-weight bearing exercises include biking, swimming, water aerobics, and rowing. Weight-bearing activities like walking well under 3 times weekly will manage to benefit the bones.
Resistance training places mechanical force (stress) on our bodies, which in turn increases bone density. Start by lifting light weights, moving in a slow and controlled manner, increasing resistance as you become stronger.
It is highly recommended that individuals with osteoporosis avoid the following types of activity:
- Step aerobics and high-impact activities such as running, jumping, and 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 and trampolines.
- Every movement that involves pulling on the head and neck.
- Even if you don't have osteoporosis, you should talk with your health care provider before you begin an exercising program.
- Be sure you warm up before beginning and cool down at the end of every exercise session.
- For the best benefit to your bone health, combine several different weight-bearing exercises.
- When you build strength, increase resistance, or weights, as an alternative to repetitions.
- Make sure to drink plenty of water whenever exercising.
- Vary the types of exercise that you try weekly.
- Combine weight bearing and resistance exercise with aerobic exercises to help increase your general health.
- Bring your friend along to assist you continue or better yet, bring your family and encourage them to be healthy.
- Add more physical activity in your day; take the stairs vs. the elevator, park further way, and walk to your co-worker's office rather than 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 as well as your routine to keep interested.
E – Enjoy your exercises. Make exercise fun so you will continue in to the future!
Specific factors raise the likelihood of developing osteoporosis. While some of these risk factors are controllable, others aren't. 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 cannot be controlled.
Women can lose about 20 percent of their bone mass in the five to seven years after menopause, causing them to be more subject to osteoporosis. It is never too soon to start thinking of bone density.
About 85-90 % of adult bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and 20 in boys. Much of the reserve of healthy bone is built in youth and before age 30. Women may be more vulnerable 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 secrets of solid bone growth when you are young.
Then, with continued exercise into old age, which benefits men as well, bone density decline may be kept to a minimum. Although women will be the main focus of information about osteoporosis and low bone density (osteopenia), some men are also seriously afflicted by this problem.
In case you do all the right things while maturing 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.
Michelle Aultman writes for Elliptial Machines Blog, her personal hobby blog, focused entirely on tips to prevent osteoporosis through fitness at home.
Author's note: The details provided on this document are designed to support, not substitute, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Michelle Aultman has no commercial intent and does not accept direct source of advertising coming from health or pharmaceutical companies, doctors, clinics, and websites. All content provided by her is based on her editorial common sense and not driven by an advertising and marketing purpose.
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