Load-Bearing Exercises can Increase Bone Mass

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Question: I recently had a bone density test done and have lost bone density since my last exam. My doctor recommended exercise but what should I be doing?
Answer: Women in their 50’s begin to experience an accelerated bone loss which will continue to increase as they age. Estrogen levels decrease as women age and the Surgeon General reports that approximately half of all women over 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Though there are several bone saving drugs on the market, the only known intervention with the potential to increase bone mass is weight-bearing activity that will also improve balance. The only side effect known from load bearing exercise is the potential to get in shape verses some of the side effects suggested by the use of some of the drugs on the market that help maintain bone density.
When you begin training use exercises that engage several muscle groups together. These compound exercises include bench press, squats, leg press, rows squat/press, lunges, pressdowns and curls. If you have little or no experience with training, begin with bodyweight exercises and machines which provide a greater measure of safety. As you progress and become more experienced expand your training repertoire and include dumbbells in your workouts which will require more skill and balance. You can improve your balance simply by standing on one foot for a few seconds at a time. Yoga is good for improving flexibility and balance. Train with weights, in the beginning, for at least two sessions a week and add in a yoga or stretching class. As you progress don’t be afraid of using larger weights as long as you continue to use good form in your exercises.
Bones, like muscles, are living tissue and when you apply stress to your bones in the form of load-bearing exercise they respond by using more calcium, magnesium and vitamin D to increase their density and strength. If you are taking a calcium supplement it has been suggested that you could retain as little as 27% of the calcium you’re taking if you aren’t exercising because exercise creates a demand for the nutrients.
You can begin prevention as early in life by being active and eating a well-balanced, nutrient-packed diet. One of the other benefits of load-bearing activity throughout your life is building and maintaining muscles mass which keeps your base metabolic rate more active. You can estimate your Resting Metabolic Rate using the Harris-Benedict formula (this one is for women): 655+(4.36 x weight [.lbs]) + (4.32 x height[inches]) – (4.7 x age). Use this as a base for your metabolism and consider this does not include anything but being a couch potato and breathing. You can add in your estimated calories for other training and activities. Using this you can estimate how many calories to consume to lose or maintain weight.
God bless and keep training,
Daryl

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