Improving your Bone Health
This week we’re joined by Hannah Calvert of the Fitness Institute of Texas (FIT) to share her expertise on bone health and how you can improve the health of your bones. For more information about FIT and how to get your bone density measured with a DEXA scan, visit them online at here (plus, MyFitCard members receive a special discount on testing services! Learn more about that here).
According to the World Health Organization, Osteoporosis is one of the top 10 most prevalent and economically costly chronic diseases. It is estimated that 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 will suffer from a broken bone as a result of osteoporosis.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by low bone density. Low bone density leaves bones fragile and highly susceptible to fracture from minimal trauma.
Why does Osteoporosis occur?
The growth and breakdown of bone are processes that are constantly occurring in our body. During childhood and adolescence, bone formation is high and breakdown is low. However, as we age, bone breakdown begins to exceed bone growth. This is especially true in postmenopausal women due to decreases in the hormone estrogen, which helps protect bone density.
What Can I Do to Prevent Bone Loss?
It is difficult for adults to increase bone density significantly, especially those over 40. However, prevention of further losses in bone density is very important. Physical activity and diet are the most accessible means to decrease the rate of bone loss. These are ways to positively impact bone density:
- Engaging in impact activities such as jumping and running (loading bones more than normal activities of daily living such as walking)
- Weight training – the higher the intensity (more load), the better for bones
- Maintaining an adequate intake of Calcium and Vitamin D – See table below
- Pharmacological treatments or surgical interventions are options that may be recommended by your doctor
- Extreme dieting (high caloric restriction over a long period time) can negatively impact bone density
- Smoking and excessive alcohol intake can also negatively impact bone density
Childhood (pre-puberty) is the best time to build up bone mass. Children who participate in sports, especially high-impact sports, have greater bone density than their sedentary peers. Evidence also shows that active children tend to have greater bone density as adults.
How Can I Get My Bone Density Measured?
The most common method of measuring bone density is by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). The DEXA scan measures bone density at the hip and spine because these areas are most predictive of fracture risk. A bone density scan is generally prescribed by a primary care physician and is available at many medical clinics and hospitals.
When Do I Need to Get My Bone Density Checked?
A DEXA is recommended for all women over the age of 65, postmenopausal women who have frequent fractures or family history of osteoporosis, and individuals with hyperparathyroidism or receiving long-term steroid therapy.
High impact weight bearing activities are ideal for building bone density in individuals without orthopedic limitations. A well-rounded training plan including cardiovascular and weight training programs is most appropriate. High impact activities such hopping, skipping, running, and plyometrics are good for bone density and can increase cardiovascular fitness. Low impact activities such as cycling, swimming, and elliptical do not aid in bone density maintenance but are still good for cardiovascular health. Strength training also plays an important role for maintaining good posture and balance to prevent falls in addition to positively impacting bone density. The best time to impact bone density is pre-puberty, but adults can help their bones by preventing major losses in bone density.
Facts have been cited from the American College of Exercise Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist Manual.
Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for Calcium and Vitamin D Across the Lifespan
Hannah Calvert is a graduate student at UT Austin working on her Master’s in Kinesiology. She earned her B.S. in Exercise Science at Indiana University and has been an ACE certified personal trainer for three years. She currently works at the Fitness Institute of Texas performing fitness assessments and teaching exercise classes in their weight loss program.
Perk alert! MyFitCard holders receive the Longhorn Rate (a $15 savings) on all fitness tests offered at the Fitness Institute of Texas including: DEXA body composition scans, RMR testing, Aerobic Fitness Testing and Nutritional Services! Must present MyFitCard at time of purchase. Cannot be combined with other offers. MyFitCard gives you deals and discounts, like this, at fitness businesses all over town. Get your MyFitCard today!
MyFitList brings together the latest information on hundreds of local fitness businesses in Austin. We’re your resource for inspiration and information for getting and staying fit. Search hundreds of Austin fitness groups and services like running, triathlon, bootcamps, yoga studios, gyms and more all in one place! Check us out at www.myfitlist.com
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