Exercise, Bones and Women
Most women are aware of the importance of exercise for maintaining a healthy weight and preventing chronic diseases, but many don’t realise that exercise is also essential for maintaining bone health.
In fact, exercise is one of the most important factors, after diet, in preventing osteoporosis and other age-related bone health concerns.
Osteoporosis is the decrease in bone mineral density (BMD), which results in an increased risk of falls and fracture.
BMD peaks around 20 years of age and total bone mass peaks around age 30. This peak remains the same until menopause in women, then there is a rapid decline in BMD for 10 years and then after the age of 60, it declines again but a bit slower.
Things that put us at risk of getting osteoporosis (bone health)
- Diet, lack of calcium or vitamin D
- If you were not very active as a child while your bones were growing
- Sedentary lifestyle, if you are currently not very active
- Genetics and family history of osteoporosis
- Gender, osteoporosis is more common in women
- Age and menopause
- Certain medications
Evidence shows that one of the best ways to not only REDUCE your risk of Osteoporosis but PRESERVE and IMPROVE it is through:
- High Impact training
- High-intensity strength training
By incorporating the right kind of exercise in your training, you can help keep your bones strong and reduce your risk of osteoporosis and injuries later in life.
Here are some tips for getting started with exercise and bone health
- Strength train at least twice a week. This will help prevent muscle loss as you age, which can lead to falls and fractures. This includes using bands, dumbbells, machines as long as you are able to add some kind of load that is challenging for the level you are at.
- Don’t be afraid to lift heavy weights*. Studies show that lifting heavier weights helps increase bone density.
- Include some kind of high impact training into your fitness routine. Depending on your age and where you starting this may be including light jumping, hopping or skipping in your exercise routine. Boxing also counts for impact training and is great for the brain as well so you get an added bonus!
But what does ‘Lifting Heavy’ and ‘High Impact’ mean?
‘Lifting heavy’ is going to be very individualised. For some this may mean starting with body weight or resistance bands. For others this will mean dumbbells and barbells or machines at the gym.
You should start slow and perform the basic movement patterns that are the staple of all exercise programs; squat, bend, push, pull, carry and stabilise.
If you’re not sure where to start with resistance training and lifting weights hire a trainer to help you. This is one of the best health investments you can ever make.
Finding a good trainer who understands you as a woman and who can provide the right exercises, amount of weight and help you understand what level of heavy is right for you is critical. A MumSafe trainer will also take into consideration things like your exercise background, birth history, any pelvic floor or abdominal pressure considerations and also your overall lifestyle including things like sleep and stress.
Things to consider for higher impact training – do you have any pelvic floor issues or is stress incontinence a consideration? Then skipping or star jumps might not be the right fit for you. However you may be able to start with some light hopping work such as agility ladder drills or boxing where there is no jumping.
Remember – If you have any existing health conditions or are taking medications that could affect you bone health, be sure to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.